Information & Perspective by Warren Woodward
Sedona, Arizona ~ August 19, 2015
Yesterday, in a 3 to 2 vote, the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) gave in to part of electric utility APS’s request for more money from solar customers. The ACC did not decide to grant the money APS wanted (about $21 per month instead of the current $5 average) but they did decide to move forward with the issue instead of waiting for APS’s next rate case. Thus the ACC has paved the way for APS to get more money sooner rather than later from solar customers and, in so doing, stop the growth of rooftop solar.
One of the 3 in favor (and who filed the amendment to make it happen) was ACC commissioner Doug Little. Little’s ACC election campaign was widely believed to have benefited from massive “dark money’ contributions from APS.
The other two who voted in favor were Tom Forese and Bob Stump. Like Little, Forese’s ACC election campaign was also widely believed to have been a recipient of mass APS cash (some $3.2 million between Forese & Little). Bob Stump is suspected of being the middleman between APS, Forese, Little, and the organizations who received the dark money to promote Forese and Little.
Regarding the recent ACC solar decision, Little was quoted in the Arizona Republic newspaper as saying, “Delaying the conversation another year basically is a disservice and not in the public interest.” ( http://www.azcentral.com/story/money/business/consumer/2015/08/19/regulators-delay-aps-solar-fee-decision/31963553/ )
I think he meant to say “not in APS’s interest.”
“Delaying the conversation another year,” or delaying APS’s money and ability to stop independent solar another year? I think the latter is more like it.
Hypocritically, just last April, when the issue was whether the ACC should hear the “smart” meter issue sooner than later, commissioner Little said practically the opposite. At that time it supposedly was in the “public interest” to “delay the conversation another year.”
An additional problem – but one which did not seem to bother the commissioners last April – was that according to Arizona statute, a hearing was supposed to have been held within 20 days, not a year later. But the ACC is not an agency to let pesky laws get in its way.
Last April Little argued that because each rate case is a fresh look at rates, then any fees the ACC might grant at that time to APS to charge customers not volunteering for a “smart” meter could be challenged again at APS’s next rate case. So effectively, the “smart” meter issue could be heard twice, once at the hearing the ACC was supposed to have within 20 days, and again during APS’s rate case.
At the April 13th ACC Staff Meeting Little said:
“Um, I think, looking at this, um, we could have one hearing or we could have two hearings. I would tend to say that while it’s probably not the most optimum situation, um, in the interests of the ratepayers’ and taxpayer money, to have two hearings would be to me, duplicative. We would be discussing the same issues twice.”
In the words of Abraham Lincoln, “No man has a good enough memory to make a successful liar.”