By Rusty Bradshaw
Sun City voters learned the four Arizona Corporation Commission candidates agreed on an issue dear to their hearts but disagreed on a state initiative on the general election ballot.
ACC candidates Sandra Kennedy (D-Phoenix), Justin Olson (R-Mesa), Kiana Maria Sears (D-Mesa) and Rodney Glassman (R-Phoenix) answered a series of questions Oct. 8 at a forum in Sun City. Residents of Sun City and Sun City West believe they were blindsided by the ACC following a rate case approved in 2017 consolidated five Northwest Valley wastewater districts raising rates in both age-restricted retirement communities significantly and lowering rates in the other three service areas.
The crowd of about 400 people learned all four candidates agreed with them. But aside from the ACC needing to be “cleaned up,” it was about all they agreed upon.
The panel of candidates, to square off in the Tuesday, Nov. 6 general election to fill two ACC seats, were divided on solar energy and Proposition 127, to be on the same ballot, and a code of conduct for the ACC.
All four candidates opposed consolidation of utility companies and said if elected they would work to get a re-hearing of the 2017 wastewater rate case and consolidation decision.
“This happened because the current climate at the ACC is that the ratepayers are not the focus,” Ms. Sears, a former ACC employee, said. “The ACC should protect the ratepayers.”
Ms. Kennedy, a former corporation commissioner, said if elected she would immediately write a letter to re-hear the wastewater case.
“When a monopoly has more of a voice than the ratepayers, there is a problem,” she said.
Mr. Olson said commission staff supports consolidation because there is a lot of work involved in multiple rate cases.
“I oppose cross subsidization, which is what these consolidations really are,” he said.
Mr. Glassman agreed that some at the ACC are putting their own interests ahead of ratepayers.
“We need people (on the commission) who will ask the tough questions and put the ratepayers first.”
Mr. Glassman and Mr. Olson, who was appointed last year to the ACC to fill an empty seat, oppose Proposition 127.
“It is estimated this measure, if passed, will result in an increase in electricity rates and carbon emissions,” Mr. Olson said.
He added California residents pay 50 percent more for their electricity than Arizonans because of failed policies similar to Proposition 127.Mr. Glassman said the measure would impose mandates, which is not beneficial to Arizona residents.
“I do not support mandates, especially in our Constitution when we know the technology will change significantly over the years,” he said.Ms. Kennedy and Ms. Sears support the initiative.
“Their arguments are not facts but fantasy,” she said. “Californians pay twice as much for everything.”
She added Arizona residents, many of them retired seniors, cannot afford high carbon emissions from coal-fired energy plants.“It has been 17 years since the renewable energy standards were modified,” Ms. Kennedy said.
She believes if Arizonans had a corporation commission willing to act for the benefit of residents, Proposition 127 would not be needed.