[Source: Ryan Randazzo, Arizona Republic] — Winners of the three open seats on the Arizona Corporation Commission will have a strong voice on issues ranging from the size of utility bills to global warming, power plants, and transmission lines. The winners will help form a new majority on the board, which has more control than any other state entity over energy policies at Arizona’s utilities.
Three of the five current commissioners are leaving office after finishing their terms: Chairman Mike Gleason, Jeff Hatch-Miller, and William Mundell. The race is getting much more attention than usual, perhaps because of the rising power costs and state’s growing energy demand. A dozen candidates, eight Republicans and four Democrats, are vying for the seats.
Commissioners Kris Mayes and Gary Pierce ultimately will have three newcomers to help them sort out the commission’s busy and often contentious agenda, which includes:
- Debate and a legal challenge to the ACC requirement that utilities get 15% of electricity from renewable sources like solar power.
- The type of power plants utilities build — coal, nuclear, natural gas, solar — and where.
- A pending rate-hike request from the state’s largest utility, Arizona Public Service Co.
- Power lines, including a debated high-voltage connection between California and Arizona.
The commissioners also make decisions regarding railroad crossings, a hot-button issue recently as Union Pacific expands its tracks in the state and residents fight to get the company to build underpasses or overpasses at busy intersections. If that weren’t enough, the commission also investigates securities fraud. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]