TUCSON - Arizona Corporation Commission Chairwoman Lea Márquez Peterson reflects on the important achievements that she and her fellow commissioners were able to accomplish in 2022 as she served in her second year as Chair.
“With 2023 around the corner and new Commissioners set to take office on January 3rd, I am proud to highlight the important policy decisions that have been made this year.” “As Arizonans faced rising inflation, we took action to help to alleviate the financial burdens on Arizona families and businesses, by encouraging utilities to take advantage of low interest rates and seeking to eliminate additional surcharges on customer bills.” “It has been my honor to serve as Chair over the past two years with my fellow Commissioners, and I look forward to continuing my work at the Commission as we welcome Commissioners-Elect Nick Myers and Kevin Thompson and continue to work toward the best possible outcomes for Arizona.”
“The Commission regulates utility services across Arizona, including electricity, water, gas, and wastewater. I am proud of the major accomplishments we have made in each of these sectors, as well as improvements to our own internal administrative functions.” Below is a summary of the Commission’s accomplishments in 2022.
In January, Chairwoman Márquez Peterson adopted a policy statement to achieve 100 percent clean energy by 2050 as an overarching goal for regulated utilities, when safe and reliable for the grid and affordable for customers. This statement supports the voluntary clean energy goals made by our largest utilities and includes new energy technologies like nuclear, solar, and hydrogen. Further, the Commission opened a new docket to track the progress of Arizona electric utilities toward achieving their voluntary commitments. These efforts represent a broader effort to block bad energy policies in Arizona and support electric reliability and affordability for Arizona families and businesses.
In an effort to understand the cost impacts to Arizona families, Chairwoman Márquez Peterson hosted three town halls to hear from APS and TEP customers regarding the maximum amount they would be willing to pay to transition to clean energy. An additional 8 town halls were hosted by the Commission to hear from communities that would be impacted the most by the early closure of Arizona’s coal-fired power plants.
In addition, the Commission approved transportation electrification plans for Tucson Electric Power and UNS Electric and new rates for charging electric vehicles at home and work. Residential rates were designed to provide discounts for charging late at night, when baseload power is most affordable, while commercial rates were designed to provide a discount for charging during the day, when solar power is most abundant.
In 2022, the Commission established a water task force to address statewide concerns related to drought and water conservation. The task force is divided into three subcommittees, each with a diverse group of participants that will continue to meet in 2023 and propose improvements to the Commission’s water policies.
In light of the ever-growing crisis with reduced water on the Colorado River, the Commission established and held the first annual water preparedness meeting to ensure Arizona’s regulated water service providers have enough water to meet demand and support growth.
Throughout the year, the Commission approved the acquisition of 16 small struggling water utilities by Cactus States Water Company and the acquisition of Far West Water & Sewer by Foothills Water Company. These acquisitions help to improve Arizona’s aging water infrastructure and ensure that customers continue to have access to a reliable and affordable supply of water.
To help encourage our state's smallest water companies to provide high quality water services, while reducing costs to rural communities, the Commission adopted changes to streamline the process for complying with the Commission. This action makes it easier for small water utility owners and operators to safely and reliably maintain their water infrastructure to best serve their customers.
“With hundreds of small and struggling water utilities across the state, we have to make the experience of being regulated by the Commission as easy as possible. While these processes are complex, they are vital to being able to maintain the financial health of systems that are essential to ensuring high quality drinking water. Many of our smallest water utilities have not been into the Commission in decades,” said Chairwoman Márquez Peterson.
In September, the Commission began an in-depth investigation of capacity issues at Liberty Utilities’ Palm Valley Water Reclamation Facility near Litchfield Park, which are preventing new housing and commercial property developers from interconnecting with the utility’s sewer system, thereby delaying economic development in the West Valley.
Additionally, in light of the pending water crisis in the Rio Verde Foothills, the Commission encouraged EPCOR Water Arizona to provide standpipe water service to the residents of the area. The application to provide service was filed by EPCOR on September 14, 2022, with the desire to provide a permanent, long-term solution for the area.
Chairwoman Márquez Peterson knows that while the policy objectives of the Commission are important, maintaining public trust in the agency is vital. In 2022, the Chairwoman and Commission continued advancing the goals stated in 2021 to engage with the public, increase transparency, and become more efficient.
To encourage collaboration, the Commission took proactive steps to improve the Commission’s relationship with the Arizona Legislature. “We are all better off if the Commission works with its fellow leaders at the Legislature. Understanding how the intentions and priorities of the Commission and the Legislature conflict or overlap will ensure the best outcomes for Arizona’s state policies.”
Finally, as a part of her mission to increase transparency within the Commission, Chairwoman Márquez Peterson implemented a process to issue monthly public meeting notices and agendas earlier than any previous chairperson. These early agendas ensured there was more time for the Commission and the public to prepare for an open meeting. As was instituted in 2021, the Commission continues to issue press releases in English and Spanish to communicate with more ratepayers. In addition, Chairwoman Márquez Peterson posts monthly “Chairwoman’s Chat” videos on social media to connect the public to the Commission’s work.
For more details on any of the points above, please contact the Office of Chairwoman Lea Márquez Peterson at 602-542-3625.