You turn over the rock and you never know what you’re going to find underneath.
Who knew that Arizona Public Service was always so willing to do everything and anything, no matter how, ahem, underhanded, to get what it wants?
Who knew that the utility monopoly was so sensitive to what opponents and critics have to say?
And who knew that underneath the veneer of Great Arizona Corporate Citizen that APS is on such a shady level, if recent tactics revealed in the media are to be believed.
The latest is a whopper of a nugget tucked in a Huffington Post article, which alleges that an APS lobbyist booked a room at the Phoenix Country Club for the son of Gary Pierce, who is on the Arizona Corporation Commission. The ACC will determine the fate of net metering, which APS wants to kill because it will hurt its bottom line.
The icky details of the APS scheme to influence the ACC are laid bare in HuffPo:
“The net metering fight has even boiled over into Arizona’s electoral politics.
“Last week Wil Cardon, a Republican candidate in the 2014 primary race for secretary of state, accused one of his opponents, Justin Pierce — son of ACC commissioner Gary Pierce — of soliciting campaign support in exchange for his father’s influence on utility regulation. Cardon’s campaign identified two individuals on the host committee for a Justin Pierce fundraiser as employees of firms that have done work for APS at one time. But both of those lobbyists told The Huffington Post that they do not currently and have never lobbied on behalf of APS.
“In response to the criticism, Pierce announced that his campaign will be publicly funded.
“The Huffington Post learned on Friday that APS’ chief lobbyist, Jessica Pacheco, reserved a room at the Phoenix Country Club for a campaign event for Justin Pierce on Oct. 16. McDonald said that Pacheco, a club member, booked the room for Pierce because she is friends with Pierce spokesman Alan Heywood and because the campaign could not reserve the room directly.”
This shady circumstance comes as it was revealed earlier this week that APS flat out lied about funding an ad blitz against its own solar customers and against solar companies.
Now that the rock has been turned over and we are seeing what lies beneath, what will the ACC make of it all?
Is the regulator of APS aware of the measures the monopoly utility is taking to attempt to influence it?
If so, will this at all factor into its thinking regarding net metering?
If you can’t trust what APS says, and there is a growing body of evidence that suggests that, then how can a sound judgment be made on net metering? And if Commissioner Pierce is being influenced in any way, what does that suggest about the process?
These aren’t questions designed to provoke APS or the ACC. These are fundamental questions that Arizonans want and deserve answers to. Because in the end, it’s the customers who have to pay the price.