RCSC returns from break railing against rate hike - Your West Valley News: Suncity

RCSC returns from break railing against rate hike

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Posted: Tuesday, August 30, 2011 7:00 am



It didn’t take long following its summer hiatus for the Recreation Centers of Sun City to call the community to action in opposition to a Southwest Gas rate increase and decoupling measure, which AARP and other organizations maintain could adversely affect seniors.

RCSC General Manager Jan Ek told the board and the residents present during Thursday night’s meeting at Sundial Recreation Center that after submitting a letter to the Arizona Corporation Commission regarding the rate increase request and RCSC’s opposition to decoupling, an ACC public comment meeting has been scheduled for 10 a.m. Oct. 7 in the Sundial auditorium.

Ek, Assistant General Manager Jim Wellman and several board members emphasized the importance of the ACC meeting.

Besides the RCSC, AARP and the Residential Utility Consumer Office, which advocates for utilities’ customers, have joined forces to oppose Southwest Gas’ decoupling measure, a proposal which would guarantee revenue levels for the local utility.

Decoupling reduces a utility’s financial risk from declining revenues, due to conservation, weather and economic conditions.

As a result, many consumer advocates have requested, and state and federal regulators have required, that utility companies’ profit levels — measured through a return on equity allowance — be reduced to reflect lower risk.

“It’s subsidizing the utilities from my point of view, and we need to attack that,” board president Vance Coleman said of decoupling. “I don’t think we can overemphasize the meeting on Oct. 7.”

Meantime, the proposed increase from Southwest Gas would raise the current average monthly winter residential bill of $58.10 by $9.01 to $67.11, a 15.5 percent increase, according to a Southwest Gas news release announcing the request earlier this year. The average monthly summer residential bill of $24.07 would increase by $2.54 to $26.61, or 10.55 percent.

Don Soderberg, Southwest Gas vice president of pricing, stated in the news release that the company’s filing includes a number of new programs that will assist customers in using energy more efficiently.

In addition, he said the application requests new rate provisions that “reduce weather-related fluctuations in customers’ bills, while ensuring Southwest Gas recovers no more or less revenue than is authorized by the Arizona Corporation Commission.”

In other business Thursday night:

• Wellman reported the repairs to the Sundial monument have been completed, and the final cost was about $8,000 less than the original $49,000 estimate.

“I hope you like the monument. I think it looks very pretty,” Wellman said, adding that final painting touches on the Roman numerals around the base will be completed by RCSC’s skilled trades department.

• Wellman also said RCSC is considering installing additional solar energy panels, similar to those installed at the Mountain View Recreation Center pool in 2006.

• Board member Jim Bishop reminded residents that candidate packets for this year’s board elections, which will be Dec. 13, are available in the board office at Lakeview Recreation Center.

“We’re always asking people that are interested, please consider getting involved,” Bishop said, adding that joining the various board committees is a way to begin. “It is rewarding work, don’t look at the hours, look at the benefit to the community.”

To read the meeting minutes and management reports from the board meeting, visit the RCSC website at www.sunaz.com.

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