By Terri Jo Neff |
On Tuesday, Justin Olson will call on his fellow members of the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) to move forward with providing Arizona Public Service Company customers with alternatives for procuring electricity, and in turn avoid possible litigation stemming from the agency’s failure to comply with state law.
Olson told AZ Free News there is a mandate in Arizona law, specifically ARS 40-202(B), which clearly states that “a competitive market shall exist in the sale of electric generation service.” In fact, about a dozen applications have been filed with the ACC over the years by companies interested in providing such service.
However, those applications have not been acted on, Olson said.
“It’s time that the Corporation Commission complies with state law and authorizes competitive power companies to provide energy services to Arizona residents,” he said. “Customers deserve an alternative to the government granted monopoly.”
The monopoly Olson is currently focused on is held by Arizona Public Service Company (APS), whose October 2019 rate increase request is slated to be discussed at the commission’s Oct. 26 meeting.
APS, a for-profit owned by S&P 500 company Pinnacle West Capital, currently serves 2.7 million customers in 11 of Arizona’s 15 counties, from Coconino County in the north, Yuma County in the southwest, and Douglas in the southwest corner of Cochise County. The majority of its customers, however, are in the Phoenix metropolitan area.
During Tuesday’s meeting, Olson will introduce an amendment to APS’ current ratemaking case to call attention to the lack of competition enjoyed by the company. The amendment would move the ACC toward compliance with the statutory competitive market for electric generation mandate while bringing hope to APS customers who told commissioners about being dissatisfied with the company’s rates and customer service.
“My amendment frees captive APS customers and empowers them to choose what company will provide energy to their homes,” Olson explained. “This amendment will unleash the powerful forces of the marketplace to benefit all Arizonans.”
Even if his fellow commissioners vote down the amendment to the current APS rate case, Olson said he is committed to bringing the ACC into compliance with state law. Doing so is the right thing, he says, to bring more options and better service to Arizona’s electricity customers.
It will also ensure taxpayers won’t end up footing the bill if any of the stalled applicants initiate legal action.
“I will continue to advocate for the Arizona Corporation Commission to come into compliance with ARS 40-202(B) while doing what I can to improve options for all customers,” Olson said.
Olson has been on the ACC since 2017. He announced earlier this month that he has entered the race for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate.