Reporter: Jessica Chapin
TUCSON (KGUN9- TV) - Tucson Electric Power is shocking customers, proposing a 15 percent rate increase. For the average customer it would mean an extra 13 dollars a month. TEP representatives say the bigger bills would be justified, but customers aren't sure.
"I'm shocked," said TEP customer Doug O'Donnell, "fifteen percent, that's kind of a big jump."
Customer Nancy Thibedau has a different reaction.
"I'm not appalled," she said, "I think if it's a necessary increase then it's just the way it is."
But for Peggy Cocio, it could break the bank.
"It's going to impact me a lot because I'm raising kids and helping my family," she said, "so it's a big deal to me."
9 On Your Side reporter Jessica Chapin took her concerns straight to TEP.
"We take it seriously and we filed this application thoughtfully," said spokesperson Joseph Barrios, "knowing that it could have an impact on our customers."
Barrios says they kept rates frozen for four years, and before that they didn't change for 10 years straight. In that time, they spent more than $1 billion on infrastructure and upgrades while conserving customers cut costs.
9 On Your Side asked what TEP had to say to customers they're been encouraging to save energy.
"Whether our customers are using more energy or less energy, when they need it we understand they still want the lights to come on," he said, "and so that requires effort and incurs costs."
Barrios says the plan asks for money they would have gained if not for renewable energy and efficiency programs. He also says it's because their revenue has remained about the same rather than growing like it used to.
Now, the decision rests with the Arizona Corporation Commission as it begins the lengthy approval process. New rates wouldn't start until August 2013 at the earliest.
Barrios says they encourage customers to weigh in on the issue. Anyone can do so on their customer line at 623-7711.