For Immediate Release | 05-07-20
Media Contact | Nicole Capone
Direct | 602-542-0713
E-Mail | NCapone@azcc.gov
Phoenix — The Arizona Corporation Commission held its monthly Open Meeting to discuss and vote on various securities, safety and utilities agenda items. Here is a brief recap of the meeting highlights:
Commission Sanctions Former Lawyer for Fraudulent Offer of Securities
The Corporation Commission ordered Anthony Eladio Ramos of Virginia and his purported blockchain company, Western Gateway Region Rural Broadband Company, Inc. (Western Gateway), to pay a $15,000 administrative penalty for fraudulently offering unregistered Western Gateway stock.
The Corporation Commission found that Western Gateway’s offering document contained inaccurate and misleading information regarding Ramos, a disbarred attorney, as well as two members of the board who were suspended from practicing law. Also, the Commission found neither Ramos nor Western Gateway were registered to offer or sell securities in Arizona.
Mr. Ramos was found to have solicited investor funds through an advertisement in the financial services section of Craigslist.com specifically directed at Phoenix residents.
All documents relating to this agenda item can be found in the Corporation Commission's online docket at https://edock t.azcc.gov and entering docket number S-21063A-18-0401.
Ajo Improvement Company and Morenci Water and Electric Company Adopt Summer Disconnection Rules
Both Ajo Improvement Company and Morenci Water and Electric Company have filed to amend rules related to disconnection policies. Under the approved changes to its rules, each company is adopting the same language that was contained in the Corporation Commission’s emergency disconnection moratorium that passed last summer. Under the changes, neither company will be disconnecting electric, water, or wastewater customers for payment issues beginning June 1, 2020, and expiring October 15, 2020.
All documents related to this agenda item can be found in the Corporation Commission’s online docket at https://edocket.azcc.gov and entering docket numbers WS-01025A-20-0060, W-01049A-20-0061, E-01025A-20-0058 and E-01049A-20-0059.
Southwest Gas Company Adjusts Delivery Charge Adjustment, Lowers Customer Bills
On April 10, 2020, Southwest Gas Company (Southwest) filed an application for approval to adjust the Delivery Charge Adjustment (DCA) rate to reflect the current balance in the DCA account. Southwest proposed to decrease the DCA rate on customers’ bills from $0.14902 per therm to $0.00655 per therm. The Commission voted to lower the DCA rate to $0.00 per therm. Setting the per therm DCA rate at $0.00 per therm will lower a residential customer bill with an average monthly consumption of 24 therms by approximately $3.58 per month.
All documents related to this agenda item can be found in the Corporation Commission’s online docket at https://edocket.azcc.gov and entering docket number G-01551A-20-0078.
Big Park Water Company Rate Increase Approved
Big Park Water Company is a Class C public service corporation providing water service to approximately 3,100 customers in the Village of Oak Creek in Yavapai County. The company has two water systems, the main system serves over 3,000 customers and the Fox-Phillips system serves approximately 30 connections. The company’s current rates were set in 1986 and 1991 respectively.
Under the approved changes to the company’s rate structure, customers will be seeing an increase to their monthly water bills. Customers in the main system territory with an average monthly use of 5,379 gallons will see their bill increase by approximately $3.06, or 10.8 percent. Customers of the Fox-Phillips system with an average monthly use of 24,150 gallons will see an increase of $34.74, or 62.21 percent.
All documents related to this agenda item can be found in the Corporation Commission’s online docket at https://edocket.azcc.gov and entering docket number W-01624A-19-0106.
Johnson Utilities, Update from Interim Manager
During an update from Johnson Utilities, LLC, the company’s Interim Manager, EPCOR, informed the Arizona Corporation Commission that the company is prepared and has enough water capacity to meet the summer demand due to completion of the Bella Vista wells and transmission main along with a Promenade Well project.
The Bella Vista Farms transmission line construction has been completed. The line will provide additional water resources to the southern part of region 2 and provide consistent water pressures and redundancy. It will convey water from the newly constructed Bella Vista Farms well that will add nearly three million gallons of water per day to the system and is expected to be completed by mid-May 2020.
Promenade well #2 is under construction. This well can produce 2.6 million gallons of water per day into the distribution system. It has very low nitrate concentrations and will add additional production and redundancy to the water system. Completion of this project is expected by mid-May.
The new Ion Exchange vessel in the main yard has been in operation for several months. The system has proved to be effective in treating the ground water in the region. The construction of a third vessel has begun, it will increase production by 500 gallons per minute at the main yard facility. This type of treatment also reduces water waste and puts less of a strain on the wastewater treatment plants.
A significant reduction in odors has been observed through hydrogen sulfide loggers located around the community surrounding the facility. There has not been an exceedance (>.03) of odors in Section 11 in over 26 weeks.
All documents related to this agenda item can be found in the Corporation Commission’s online docket at https://edocket.azcc.gov/ and entering docket number WS-02987A-18-0050.
UNS Electric and Gas, Inc. Pass Tax Savings Back to Ratepayers
UNS Electric, Inc. filed an application to amend a prior Commission decision requesting authorization to refund, over two months beginning in May 2020, approximately $1.5 million of deferred tax savings. The Commission voted to refund the entire $1.5 million over one month.
UNS Gas, Inc. filed an application seeking modification of a previous Commission decision to allow it to refund approximately $1.3 million in deferred tax savings over two months, May and June 2020. The Commission voted to refund the entire $1.3 million over one month.
All documents related to these agenda items can be found in the Corporation Commission’s online docket at https://edocket.azcc.gov and entering docket numbers E-04204A-18-0065 and G-04201A-18-0066.
Tucson Electric Power Company to Credit Customer Bills in June
Tucson Electric Power Company (TEP) filed an application to refund its customers over collected Demand Side Management funds over a two-month period, beginning in May 2020. The Commission voted to refund the entire $8.3 million of over collected funds during the month of June 2020.
All documents related to this agenda item can be found in the Corporation Commission’s online docket at https://edocket.azcc.gov and entering docket number E-01933A-17-0250.
APS Gives Rate Comparison Tool Update and Discusses Customer Service Initiatives
Daniel Froetscher, president and chief operating officer for APS, informed Commissioners that 14,675 checks have been issued to the customers who were or may have been placed on less-than optimal rate plans as a result of using the company’s initial online rate comparison tool. The company credited customers for the amount they overpaid and issued customers an additional $25 credit, with this came a letter explaining the reason for the refund. The final wave of checks will be delivered to customers next week.
The company also established a customer support fund. 11,000 customers have self-reported an economic hardship, health issue or a significant change due to the coronavirus to the company. For these customers, APS has provided a $100 account credit per customer to lessen the financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The company's new rate comparison tool launched on February 3, 2020, and in the past 30 days 36,000 customers used the tool. A total of 7,000 customers made a change to a different rate plan since the launch of the new tool.
Regarding customer service enhancements, APS is in the process of establishing its customer advisory board, where they will gain insight directly from a variety of APS customers who will test and evaluate the system and report inconsistencies, customer experiences and service options. The first customer advisory board meeting will be held virtually on May 20 due to the coronavirus. The company’s secret shopper program has also begun. Since late March, 50 secret shops have taken place.
All documents related to this agenda item can be found in the Corporation Commission’s online docket at https://edocket.azcc.gov and entering docket number E-01345A-19-0003.
APS to Credit Customer Bills in June
APS will return $36 million in demand side management fees back to its customers. An amendment from Commissioner Olson will benefit customers and ensures that APS will not increase rates for relief programs or additional funding for existing programs.
An amendment from Commissioner Márquez Peterson will benefit customers by providing the credit come to customers immediately, as a one-time payment, accelerating the payback timeline so customers receive the relief faster than APS had originally proposed. Customers can expect to see the refund as a one-time credit on their bill in June 2020. Customer credits will vary based on individual usage and circumstances.
APS remains committed in its efforts to support customers while at the same time ensuring continued safe and reliable electric service. APS ceased disconnection for non-payment beginning on March 13, 2020 and is waiving late fees on past due balances during the pendency of the crisis. APS also established a customer support fund with $1 .5 million in shareholder funds to assist customers who are having trouble paying their bills. All limited-income customers on the Energy Support Program (Rate Riders E-3 and 24 E-4) are immediately eligible for $100 in credit to their bills, while additional requests from residential and small business customers with delinquencies of at least two months receive priority. To date, over $900,000 has been distributed to customers in need from this fund.
All documents related to this agenda item can be found in the Corporation Commission’s online docket at https://edocket.azcc.gov and entering docket number E-01345A-20-0080.
Qwest Corporation dba CenturyLink QC Ordered to Show Cause Regarding Service Outages
Commission directed Staff to move forward with the Order to Show Cause against Qwest Corporation dba CenturyLink QC.
All documents related to this agenda item can be found in the Corporation Commission’s online docket at https://edocket.azcc.gov and entering docket number T-00000A-19-0001.
A complete list of agenda items and a broadcast of the Commissioner’s May 5-6, 2020 meeting is available on the Corporation Commission’s website: http://azcc.gov/live.
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.