Coolidge, Ariz. – The Bureau of Indian Affairs today announced final electric power rate increases for the San Carlos Irrigation Project-Power Division for the first time in over 16 years. The final electric power rate increases have been published in the Federal Register and will be effective starting January 18, 2023.
“While the BIA does everything possible to prevent increasing costs for consumers, the electric power rate increases are necessary to bring the cost of operations to current standards, which has not been done in over 16 years,” said Darryl LaCounte, Bureau Director- BIA. “These electric power rate increases now reflect the current cost to operate and supply the power, perform appropriate maintenance, and ensures BIA can continue to provide safe and reliable services into the future.”
Average residential monthly bills will increase by $4.08 or 3.2% per month. Average commercial monthly bills will increase by 15-20% per month. Bill increases will be higher for customers with above average energy consumption and demand.
Additionally, the Power Division will shift from tiered electricity rates where customers who use more electricity pay less per unit, to a flat rate where all energy consumed is evenly priced and reflective of the cost of purchasing power. This move reflects changes in the present market for purchasing power, which is impacted by power supply scarcity and higher fuel prices.
“The highest consuming customers have benefited from the declining rate structure,” said Trina Locke, Acting BIA Office of Trust Services Director. “The new flat rate structure encourages energy conservation by ensuring all energy consumed is evenly priced.”
A rate increase was initially proposed in February, and the BIA held a series of in-person and virtual meetings to discuss the proposal with stakeholders.
The San Carlos Irrigation Project-Power Division provides electric power service to customers located within the Gila River Indian Reservation, the San Carlos Apache Reservation, and off-reservation communities in Gila, Maricopa, Pima, and Pinal Counties in Arizona. Its service territory stretches across five counties and includes 28 substations, and 1,912 miles of distribution lines.
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The Bureau of Indian Affairs directly administers and funds Tribally operated infrastructure, law enforcement and justice, social services (including child welfare), Tribal governance, and trust land and natural and energy resources management programs for the Nation’s federally recognized American Indian and Alaska Native Tribes through four offices: Indian Services, Justice Services, Trust Services and Field Operations.
The BIA owns three electrical utilities that provide essential electrical power services to Tribal communities, reservations, and non-reservation customers. These are San Carlos Irrigation Project Power Division, Colorado River Agency Power Division in Arizona, and Mission Valley Power utility in northwestern Montana. BIA’s authority to assess rates at SCIP dates to the Act of March 7, 1928 (45 Stat. 210-212) as amended, and 25 U.S.C. 385c, and is addressed in BIA’s regulations at 25 CFR 175.