Unhappy with increase in electric rates

Posted: Friday, November 23, 2007

I am a new resident of Juneau. I started paying for electricity as of August. While I was pleased at the seemingly low rates in August and September, I was very surprised at my bill for October. The bill was 50 percent higher than the previous month. I thought I had used a lot more electricity. In fact, I had used less. This did not make sense. I called Alaska Electric Light & Power and was told the rates are raised in the "high season" (60 percent of the year), from November to May. This is for several reasons, one being to encourage people to conserve energy use. I have three issues with this practice.

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It is price gouging to charge more during months when people will naturally be forced to use more electricity. There is no choice as the weather is colder and the days shorter.

Here is the definition of price gouging from investor.com: "Price gouging refers to the phenomenon of sharply rising prices of items in (often temporary) high demand." It seems quite odd to me that regulators allow this.

As to the idea that raising the prices by 50 percent would encourage users to conserve, there is a problem with that logic. For higher prices to encourage conservation, the practice of conserving must actually make a difference. I looked at my usage for October and September. My usage in October was less than in September but the bill was $40 higher. There is no way I can cut my usage to address that substantial a hike except by sitting in the dark and never washing.

Lastly, the hike in rate was as of Nov. 1. As my meter reading was taken on Oct. 25, I had used no electricity in November at all so should have been charged at the October rate. The utility told me that since they prepared my bill in November, they charge me the November rate. This is not fair business practice. If you use the product while it is being charged at a certain rate, you should be charged at that rate, not the rate they plan to charge in the future. This practice has to stop.

Carole Bookless


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