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Arizona Solar Center Blog

Commentary from Arizona Solar Center Board Members and invited contributors.

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The Two Faces of the Corporation Commission

It's not that I wanted to stay silent on the whole Corporation Commission mess...

...it's just that for the past six months, every time I sat down to write something, a new controversy would surface. My best attempt to clarify this long-running scandal that is our current Commission is to simply state that these five statewide elected officials are embroiled in a battle of gutter politics of their own making. The Commissioners' own actions started this downward spiral and no amount of spin will change the fact that it is their actions that are at issue, not the messenger.

Commissioner Bob Stump has been pontificating to anybody who will listen that "dark money" from the solar side is the issue. Really? I guess he would like us to believe that there is "good" dark money and "bad" dark money.

azcc-2015.jpg

The dark money that has uncovered wrongdoings and alleged wrongdoings by the Commissioners is "bad" dark money in Stump's world. Dark money that secretly flowed into the campaigns to discredit the opposing party's candidates and question their integrity is apparently "good" dark money.

Dark money is either good or it is bad--you can't have it both ways. If Commissioner Stump is so annoyed by the impact these dollars are having on the good-name of the Commission and the integrity of the Commissioners, then he should join the call for a complete accounting of the dark money expenditures by the entities that he has jurisdiction over: the utilities and their parent companies. Until he does so, this show of righteous anger is just bad political theater.

Commissioners Tom Forsee and Greg Little, beneficiaries of the dark money that helped defeat their opponents, continue to take offense at anybody who questions their independence.  Yet the news media across the state keeping pointing out that these commissioners' actions are only giving credence to the allegations coming their way.

Then there is the case of Chairwoman Susan Bitter-Smith who has announced she will resign on January 4, 2016, the day before the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear a suit to remove her from office.  Her resignation makes the hearing moot. Still, Bitter-Smith says she wants her day in court. Again, you can't have it both ways: if you want your day in court then you don't resign the day before the hearing.

Commissioner Bob Burns is caught up in the same type of controversy that led to Bitter-Smith's resignation. To his credit, Burns has remained largely silent on his case, letting the process play out.

If you are keeping score at home, then it is pretty clear that there is a lot of smoke in the air--and that can only mean one thing: fire.

Jim Arwood
Communications Director
Arizona Solar Center

Question: Has the Arizona Corporation Commission lost the trust of Arizonans?  If so, what can be done to restore that trust?

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Comments 4

Jim Stack on Sunday, 20 December 2015 19:48

Question: Has the Arizona Corporation Commission lost the trust of Arizonans? If so, what can be done to restore that trust?
Answer: YES

They need a complete new board with non bias members who will enforce the original rules of the Commission. People like Kris Mayes who made sure they followed the proper enforcement of their rues to protect the people from monopolies.

http://apps.azsos.gov/public_services/Title_14/14-02.pdf?d=365
TITLE 14. PUBLIC SERVICE CORPORATIONS; CORPORATIONS AND ASSOCIATIONS; SECURITIES REGULATION
CHAPTER 2. CORPORATION COMMISSION
FIXED UTILITIES
Authority: Article XV, § 3, Constitution of Arizona and A.R.S. § 40-202 et seq

Question: Has the Arizona Corporation Commission lost the trust of Arizonans? If so, what can be done to restore that trust? Answer: YES They need a complete new board with non bias members who will enforce the original rules of the Commission. People like Kris Mayes who made sure they followed the proper enforcement of their rues to protect the people from monopolies. http://apps.azsos.gov/public_services/Title_14/14-02.pdf?d=365 TITLE 14. PUBLIC SERVICE CORPORATIONS; CORPORATIONS AND ASSOCIATIONS; SECURITIES REGULATION CHAPTER 2. CORPORATION COMMISSION FIXED UTILITIES Authority: Article XV, § 3, Constitution of Arizona and A.R.S. § 40-202 et seq
Guest - Jim Combs on Monday, 21 December 2015 11:21

Jim,

Even though I am a solar advocate and have been a solar water heating contractor for 34 years I like to be objective on these issues so they don't become an unproductive he said/she said. In your good dark money vs. bad dark money assessment wasn't there dark money that went onto the campaigns of the "pro solar candidates" in an attempt to have them rule favorably on solar issues? How do you see that as different?

Also, isn't it a little sleazy to have investigators dredge things up to discredit elected officials in an attempt to create a controversy like what happened to Commissioner Bittersmith when there was nothing she was trying to hide. It was already all public record and she was probably the most pro solar commissioner we had. I hate to lose her over a contrived smear campaign.

I'm just saying that many of these solar electric companies and organizations are equally as ruthless as the electric utilities because of the money at stake for both sides. As solar water heating contractors we've been on the receiving end of the short stick by both of these entities and neither one feels any better nor does having "independent" organizations that carry the water for "solar" marginalize the solar water heating industry.

Jim Combs - Conservative Energy Systems, Owner

Jim, Even though I am a solar advocate and have been a solar water heating contractor for 34 years I like to be objective on these issues so they don't become an unproductive he said/she said. In your good dark money vs. bad dark money assessment wasn't there dark money that went onto the campaigns of the "pro solar candidates" in an attempt to have them rule favorably on solar issues? How do you see that as different? Also, isn't it a little sleazy to have investigators dredge things up to discredit elected officials in an attempt to create a controversy like what happened to Commissioner Bittersmith when there was nothing she was trying to hide. It was already all public record and she was probably the most pro solar commissioner we had. I hate to lose her over a contrived smear campaign. I'm just saying that many of these solar electric companies and organizations are equally as ruthless as the electric utilities because of the money at stake for both sides. As solar water heating contractors we've been on the receiving end of the short stick by both of these entities and neither one feels any better nor does having "independent" organizations that carry the water for "solar" marginalize the solar water heating industry. Jim Combs - Conservative Energy Systems, Owner
Jim Stack on Saturday, 02 January 2016 09:26

JC ,Looks like your company only does Hot Water systems and the AZCC and even utilities are fine with Solar Hot Water but don't let the public compete on PV systems. You can'r run your home and car on hot water like I do with PV. Susan Bittersmith has been against Solar PV , has nothing Solar at her home and drives a BIG SUV alone most of the time. The few Commissioners who were pro Solar PV have ALL gone.
We need independent commissioners who are for the public not industry. They have to look at the entire Energy picture including the Air we breath and Water we use. ASU has been the biggest leader in this area so maybe we need members from ASU to run our Energy for the best results.

JC ,Looks like your company only does Hot Water systems and the AZCC and even utilities are fine with Solar Hot Water but don't let the public compete on PV systems. You can'r run your home and car on hot water like I do with PV. Susan Bittersmith has been against Solar PV , has nothing Solar at her home and drives a BIG SUV alone most of the time. The few Commissioners who were pro Solar PV have ALL gone. We need independent commissioners who are for the public not industry. They have to look at the entire Energy picture including the Air we breath and Water we use. ASU has been the biggest leader in this area so maybe we need members from ASU to run our Energy for the best results.
Jim Stack on Monday, 11 January 2016 17:22

Here is a talk by the head of the Government FERC telling how Solar PV was growing. It's interesting to note the SRP is under the Government Not for profit entity under FERC yet is working just the opposite of the Government. Thanks to ASU for this conference and speakers.
https://vimeo.com/41167448

Arizona Solar Summit 2012 Day 2
06 - Keynote address: “Future Promise of Solar Energy”
Jon Wellinghoff, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman, will discuss how the federal government is working to help the Southwest develop its solar potential.

Here is a talk by the head of the Government FERC telling how Solar PV was growing. It's interesting to note the SRP is under the Government Not for profit entity under FERC yet is working just the opposite of the Government. Thanks to ASU for this conference and speakers. https://vimeo.com/41167448 Arizona Solar Summit 2012 Day 2 06 - Keynote address: “Future Promise of Solar Energy” Jon Wellinghoff, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman, will discuss how the federal government is working to help the Southwest develop its solar potential.
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