SRP customers voice frustration over proposed rate hike

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

TEMPE, Ariz. -- SRP customers are voicing their frustrations over a proposed rate hike. If the rate increase is approved, all customers will see their bills go up.

The average customer will pay about $4.50 more per month, but solar customers could end up paying an extra $50 per month.

Current solar customers would not be affected by the change for ten years, but new customers would feel the impact immediately.

SRP officials said they are proposing a plan change for solar customers to help balance out electricity costs.

Those customers who switched to solar were hoping to save money and help the environment, but they’re afraid if the proposed plan goes through, they could end up paying a lot more.

SRP tells 3TV as long as the customers use less energy during peak hours, they could end up saving instead of paying more. But customers aren't too sure, especially those who use solar panels.

"We've tried to do things to help ourselves, help the community, help the businesses and our country stay green," said James Dean, an SRP customer.

Now Dean and his wife Sue feel like their investment to stay green is backfiring on them.

"They are changing the rules after the fact,” said Dean. “We went into this with one understanding.

Dean spent thousands of dollars to make his home energy efficient.

"We put in high-energy efficient windows and then we put in high-energy efficient screens to reduce the solar gain, and we added the sliding screens," said Dean.

They also have ceiling fans throughout their home, as well as LED lights. Then they decided to get solar panels installed.

But Dean is afraid his investment won't pay off if SRP approves new price plans for customers who own electric vehicles and produce their own energy with rooftop solar panels.

"If it goes through it may be a disadvantage,” said Dean.

SRP said customers like Dean won't be affected right away if the proposed plan goes through.

"Our current rooftop solar customers are not impacted. They stay on their bill for 10 years in 2025. A lot can happen in ten years," said Scott Harelson with SRP.

"The problem is, they're very short-term thinkers. What they're actually doing is they're going to discourage any more production on rooftop solar,” said SRP customer Ray Malinda.

Although Dean won't be affected right away if the proposed plan goes through, he has a 20-year lease with the rooftop solar system, and said he is still disappointed about the proposed changes.

SRP said there are around 15,000 solar rooftop customers, and most of them are upset about the proposed changes.

SRP’s board will make a final vote on the new proposed plans February 26 at 9:30 a.m. at the company's administrative offices in Tempe.