Natural gas fee makes customer fume

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SCOTTSDALE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

The EEP weather adjustment that is appearing on Southwest Gas bills is raising plenty of questions from consumers."I have a heat pump to heat and cool the house," Pat Bush said.

Like many homeowners, Bush not only has electric in her home, she also has gas.

"I always wanted to be heated with gas and water heated with gas because I thought it was more frugal," she said.

At least, that was her idea anyway. However, when Bush was reviewing her gas bill recently, it sure didn't appear frugal.

"I saw usage was $125 and some cents, but the bill was $193," she said.

How could there be such a big difference between what she used and what she owed? As she looked at her bill, she noticed a mysterious fee that had apparently jacked up her bill.

"It says EEP weather adjustment for $40.78," Bush said.

3 On Your Side got involved and discovered that Bush and all Southwest Gas customers are noticing a relatively new line item on their gas bill called an EEP weather adjustment and the amount can fluctuate. 

"I think it's a crock," Bush said.

The National Weather Service indicates February was the second warmest month on record. As a result, Bush said she and other Southwest Gas customers probably didn't use as much gas as normal and she wanted answers for her high bill so she called 3 On Your Side.

"The charge that customers might be seeing right now is related to our Energy Efficiency Provision and that is a provision that was approved by the Arizona Corporation Commission in November 2012," said Amy Washburn with Southwest Gas.

Energy Efficiency Provision or EEP may have been approved, but what is it? When the gas company sells less natural gas during warm weather and their revenue decreases, the EEP fee you pay helps Southwest Gas maintain financial stability. On the flip side, during the winter months when the gas company sells more gas homeowners are supposed to see a credit on their bill or money back.

"It's meant to keep things stable, so a customer, this customer in particular, might have seen a credit in January and February of last year, however, this past February she paid on the upward adjustment," Washburn explained.

Bush said she doesn't agree with the EEP fee at all and says now that she knows the reason behind it, she's angry.

"How do they justify this kind of a charge on something you didn't buy because you didn't need it, didn't want it and didn't use it?" Bush asked.

Again, the Arizona Corporation Commission approved and gave its blessing to this fee. If you have any concerns, contact the Arizona Corporation Commission or Southwest Gas. And according to SW Gas, last month the average weather adjustment was $14.95 and the reason for Pat Bush's $40 adjustment was high usage. For additional information about the EEP  adjustment visit: 

http://www.swgas.com/tariffs/aztariff/decoupling/

http://www.azcc.gov/Divisions/Administration/news/141211SW%20Gas%20Decoupling.pdf?d=722