For Immediate Release | 3-27-20
Media Contact | The Office of Commissioner Sandra D. Kennedy
Direct | 602-542-3933
Email | SDKennedy-Web@azcc.gov
PHOENIX — Arizona Corporation Commissioner Sandra D. Kennedy has asked Governor Doug Ducey to provide state funds for Arizonans who are struggling with utility bills due to the mass disruption of our economy from the COVID-19 emergency. Hourly workers, freelancers, and the self-employed, including gig-economy workers, will be disproportionately affected, and funds should be designated to support these Arizonans. “It is important to prepare to support those families and individuals who may be unable to work, may lose wages or perhaps their jobs. When utility disconnections are suspended, they will likely be using resources to continue to care for their families and may need to defer the payment of their water, electric, gas, and telecom utility bills,” Commissioner Kennedy wrote. The Governor and the State Legislature leadership received this letter on March 17, 2020 and have yet to respond.
Commissioner Kennedy launched an inquiry into utility activities and COVID-19 on March 12, 2020 to ensure a public, coordinated record of regulated utilities and their response to COVID-19. The Governor’s Office has not engaged and has ignored Commissioner Kennedy’s repeated requests for a meeting. The inquiry asked for, among other things, utility plans for disconnection suspension, customer bill assistance, including relief from Demand Rates and Time of Use Rates, expansion/implementation of Low-Income rates and use of Emergency Tariffs. Additionally, Commissioner Kennedy has asked why the Residential Utility Consumer Office (“RUCO”), an executive branch agency, has been silent on COVID-19 issues.
Instead of providing clear and proactive leadership, the Governor has been making media appearances and preventing cities from being able to properly protect their citizens from the spread of COVID-19. Governor Ducey’s “cooperative agreement” with Arizona Public Service (“APS”), Tucson Electric Power (“TEP”), UNS Electric, Inc. (“UNS Electric”), UNS Gas, Inc. (“UNS Gas”) and Salt River Project (“SRP”) was actually secured by the Arizona Corporation Commission (“ACC” or “Commission”) almost two weeks before the Governor’s media announcement. Instead of riding on the Commission’s coattails, has Governor Ducey secured cooperative agreements with the electric, gas, water, and telecom companies that are outside of ACC jurisdiction? At a time when Governor Ducey should be communicating regularly and coordinating closely with state and local leaders, he is focused more on media appearances than on actual governing.
Commissioner Kennedy calls on Governor Ducey to stop using media appearances as a shield and to work with elected officials throughout the state to protect Arizonans during this COVID-19 emergency.
Commissioner Kennedy’s office will continue to provide updates regarding COVID-19 and the impact on state regulated utilities periodically. Please follow Commissioner Kennedy on Facebook, Twitter, and view her ACC page. You can also follow the Commission on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn for updates.
About Commissioner Kennedy:
Sandra D. Kennedy was re-elected to the Corporation Commission in 2018 on a platform of restoring integrity to the Commission, lowering unjustified utility rate increases, and creating more solar and renewable energy in Arizona, especially roof top solar. Commissioner Kennedy was first elected to the Arizona Corporation Commission in 2008 on a platform of promoting solar energy in Arizona, and as a fierce consumer advocate. She started her public service when she was elected to the Arizona House of Representatives in November 1986, where she served for six years before successfully becoming a state senator in 1992. She served three terms as State Senator. Sandra was also elected to serve on the Phoenix Union High School Governing Board for a four-year term in 1990, serving concurrently with her last term in the Arizona House and her first term in the State Senate.
The Arizona Corporation Commission was established by the state’s constitution to regulate public utilities and business incorporation. The Corporation Commission is Arizona’s co-equal, fourth branch of government. The five Commissioners elected to the Corporation Commission oversee executive, legislative, and judicial proceedings on behalf of Arizonans when it comes to their water, electricity, telephone, and natural gas resources as well as the regulation of securities, pipeline, and railroad safety. To learn more about the Arizona Corporation Commission and its Commissioners, visit http://azcc.gov.