3 On Your Side

Some customers complain their APS bills are 'shocking'

Posted: Updated:
(Source: Stacey Champion's Chang.org petition) (Source: Stacey Champion's Chang.org petition)
APS logo. (Source: APS) APS logo. (Source: APS)
Barbara Lockwood, vice president of regulation for APS (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Barbara Lockwood, vice president of regulation for APS (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(3 ON YOUR SIDE) -

Some APS customers say they are fed up with their monthly power bills and they want something to be done. There's one woman among them whose fight against APS seems to be gaining momentum.

There are two problems going on that have morphed into one big problem.

First, APS raised its rates not long ago and some customers say their bills went up a lot more than they were expecting.

The second issue is that APS changed its service plans. As a result, some customers are already complaining they're using the same electricity but their bills have skyrocketed.

[FIRST ISSUE: APS rate hike approved]

[SECOND ISSUE: New changes coming to APS customer billing plans]

[AND THIS 3 ON  YOUR SIDE STORY: Alert: New APS rate plans]

Stacey Champion has been an APS customer for years. but that doesn't necessarily mean she likes the power company. In fact, she's spearheading a battle against APS.

"I have an opportunity to potentially help thousands of people and so it's the right thing to do, therefore I'm going for it," she said.

Champion is attempting to unravel a rate hike implemented by APS back in August. That hike affects more than 1 million customers. When APS pushed the increase through, it said the "typical monthly residential bill [would be] increasing 4.5 percent, or about $6 per month."

[VIDEO EXTRA: APS rate hike was 'over a year' in the making, spokeswoman said]

Champion says those initial numbers are not accurate.

"It's been double what they said that rate increase would be," she said.

Frustrated, this community activist started a petition on Change.org three months ago and already has nearly 3,000 signatures. The petition is to persuade the Arizona Corporation Commission, which approved the rate hike, to revisit the issue.

[CHANGE.ORG: Champion's petition]

"I've been using less energy this year versus last year, especially less on-peak energy, but yet my charge for that energy that I am using has gone up," Champion explained.

Other APS customers have similar complaints and want something done.

In paperwork filed with the Corporation Commission, some people claim they've seen spikes in their APS bills as high as 32 percent, 40 percent and even 62 percent. 

Proceedings in front of Administrative Law Judge Jane Rodda have taken place with lawyers representing Champion, as well as APS, which, of course, is against having another hearing.

"Let me say for the records, I've never had a proceeding like this," Rodda said.

"We're well aware of Ms. Champion's petition and some of the concerns expressed by the customers," Barbara Lockwood, vice president of regulation for APS, said.

She acknowledges the utility company has donated money to the political campaigns for the Corporation Commission. But she maintains there's no conflict of interest. (Click here for the Political Participation Policy of APS's parent company, Pinnacle West Capital Corporation.)

"We've looked at a whole host of things with respect to this rate adjustment that happened last year and to date we've found no issues," she said.

[VIDEO EXTRA: 'We've found no issues,' APS spokeswoman says]

[VIDEO EXTRA: APS addresses February supply adjustor]

[RELATED: APS wants to lower customers' rates thanks to federal tax overhaul]

[AND THIS: APS customers will begin to see bill decreases this month]

The administrative law judge is expected is make a recommendation about whether another hearing is warranted.

In the meantime, Stacey Champion says she'll keep fighting.

"I have people calling me and thanking me and telling me how much this impacts their life; it's worth it."

If the Arizona Corporation Commission decides to revisit the issue and schedules another hearing to discuss APS' rate hike, we’ll let you know in a follow-up report.

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Warren TrentWarren Trent is currently employed by KTVK/KPHO-TV in Phoenix, Arizona as an investigative and consumer producer for 3 On Your Side, a unit that earned a 2013 Rocky Mountain Emmy nomination for a report on expired tires and a 2015 an Emmy nomination for a report called "Mattress Madness."

Click to learn more about Warren.

Warren Trent
3 On Your Side

Warren previously did on-air reporting for the KTVK/KPHO-TV “Varsity Zone” sports show. Warren’s versatility continues to shine as he has worked on the assignment desk, as a news writer and as a field producer.

Warren is a seasoned television journalist whose progressive TV career began at 6ABC-TV in Philadelphia with "Action News," a favorite choice for millions of viewers for decades. While at 6ABC, Warren advanced through the ranks in unprecedented success as a sound technician, an assignment editor, a video editor, a sports producer, a bureau chief, a public affairs specialist and ultimately as programming producer. In his final role at 6ABC, Warren produced a top-rated, award-winning television news magazine show and also lead producer for the "High School Huddle" sports show. Warren has also been assigned to cover both global and national news stories.

In addition to broadcasting, Warren enjoys contributing to society as a mentor and volunteer. He is president of the Arizona Association of Black Journalists and a member of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity.

Warren has also volunteered by serving on the board of directors for Image and Attitude, a New Jersey-based nonprofit specializing in self-sufficiency for women and has also served on the board for The VIP Project, which supports autism awareness.

Warren says it is an honor to serve on the NATAS Board of Governors to work with a diverse group of professionals dedicated to honoring and assisting current and future journalists.

And one little-known fact about Warren is that he taught himself how to juggle as a hobby.

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