Billionaire activist Tom Steyer (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Billionaire activist Tom Steyer (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Arizona Public Service Co.’s rates are making enemies.

The Arizona utility proposed a rate hike in 2017 that drew the ire of customers and energy choice advocates. This past week, billionaire activist Tom Steyer decided to join the fight against Arizona Public Service Co.’s (APS) rate increases, claiming a conflict of interest between APS, one other utility company and state regulators.

Speaking with Arizona news site AzCentral, Steyer said he company disclosures reveal that APS played a part in electing members of the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC), the governing body who sets rates for more than a million customers.

“There is something really wrong here where a corporation is electing the people who then give them rate hikes in a monopoly where they are making more and more and more money, and people’s rates are going up, and they are refusing to do things like put in renewables that would lower people’s cost,” Tom Steyer said.

AZCentral noted that Steyer funded an Arizona clean-energy proposition that failed this past November during midterm elections.

Steyer-led Anti-APS Site Says Alleged Conflict of Interest is “Illegitimate”, “Corrupt”

Steyer leads a clean-energy organization called NextGen America, who runs a petition site through which Arizona residents can sign their name to a petition asking for a rollback on the 21017 rate hike Steyer alleges was the result of the ACC working on behalf of APS and not the customers for whom they should be working.

A promotional video on the site details Steyer’s argument. A female narrator says that more than 300,000 Arizona energy customers saw their bills go up 10% in the past year. They say this increase is due to APS using their own money to fund the election of two ACC officials who voted in favor of the company’s requested rate hike.

“In 2014, APS secretly spent over $10 million in dark money electing two ACC members who cast the deciding votes in favor of a $95 million rate hike on APS customers,” the narrator says.

“APS is secretly buying elected officials who will let them rip you off and that’s fundamentally illegitimate and corrupt.”

Situations like this may come to an end at some point in Arizona’s future, as the ACC just this past December held a public hearing about the possibility of opening up a retail energy and natural gas market.

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