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Mission Creep at the Corporation Commission

July 2, 2019

Bob Robb’s recent column on the Arizona Corporation Commission was right on when he suggested that the ACC is involved in “mission creep.” And, unfortunately, the creeping is in the wrong direction. Instead of creeping toward less regulation, as they should be, the ACC is creeping toward ever more involvement in areas that are not within their assigned duties. One that Bob mentioned was mandating the type of energy that Arizona utilities should purchase. The recent example is renewable energy mandates. Social policy like this should be left to the Arizona legislature and the ACC should stick to its proper mission of ensuring that Arizona ratepayers get the most efficiently produced energy possible. The Goldwater Institute sued the ACC over this overreach (I was the plaintiff—Miller vs ACC). The case went through all levels of the court system, but we ultimately were unsuccessful. The overreach by the ACC is a classic example of the saying that “When you have a hammer in your hand, every problem looks like a nail.” This is especially troubling to me as a lifelong registered Republican since the ACC has been dominated by Republicans for many years. The authority to manage the operations of the utility companies in Arizona should be left to the utility companies and the ACC should stick to their job of rate and service regulation.

The latest ACC overreach is their attempt to force APS ratepayers (I am one) to pay for charging stations for electric vehicles. Because it is mostly wealthy people who can afford electric vehicles, this is simply forcing poor APS ratepayers to subsidize the wealthy. Electric charging stations should be provided by private companies.

As a final observation, I must point out that the ACC is obsolete. The days when utilities were a natural monopoly are gone (if they ever existed). Utility companies should be allowed to compete. This has been done successfully in Texas and some other places. Let’s do it here.

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