Thirteen years ago, blackouts, and soaring electricity rates defined the political landscape of California. Drought, delays in approval of new power plants, and market manipulation decreased supply. Wholesale prices skyrocketed by 800% in little over half a year in no small part due to the efforts of electricity profiteers at places like Enron.
California’s disaster was so bad that Arizona Corporation Commission halted the program in Arizona. We were there â€“ we remember. Halting deregulation of the power industry was the right thing to do then, and it remains the right thing to do now.
However, there are those who would like Arizona to forget about California’s problems and charge ahead anyway. They want you to look past the fact that most of the states that have deregulated are blue states on the east coast who really just reregulated, submitting themselves to further federal oversight by FERC and market operators such as an RTO (Regional Transmission Organization) or ISO (Independent System Operator). They point to Texas, the only red state that has deregulated, but they want you to look past soaring customer complaints, lack of adequate supply, unpredictable pricing, or the $10 billion consumers would have saved had rates remained regulated, and lower.
We are honored to help the Arizona Power Consumers Coalition in their efforts to support reliable power and oppose deregulation. In case you missed it, Jay Heiler, the coalition chairman, had an excellent op-ed featured in the Arizona Republic (click here to read).
Over the past two weeks, the Coalition has announced a growing list of supporters including the Agri-Business Council of Arizona, East Valley Partnership, Greater Phoenix Economic Council, Greater Phoenix Leadership, WESTMARC, and many others from across the state (click here to see the list).
We’re not new to the critical issues of power generation and transmission. We have been privileged to work for Salt River Project since 1999. They have been a strong member of the community delivering low-cost, reliable power and water for more than 100 years. We have also been pleased to work for Electrical District 2 which has been providing local, responsive electric service to Pinal County for over 90 years.
These organizations along with APS, Tucson Electric Power, the cooperatives, and others have created a system that works well, keeps prices stable, provides choice, and maintains a reliable electricity grid for Arizona. Customers can choose from a variety of price plans, energy proficient programs, billing and payment options as well as generation sources (including solar and others). These robust choices for customers have led to Arizona’s utilities high customer service rankings with JD Power, higher than most states that have implemented deregulation and with fewer reported problems.
Not to mention, these organizations are our friends, co-workers, community volunteers and charitable supporters who have, in part, made Arizona such a great place to live. They aren’t out of state interests looking to make a quick profit and move on.
If you look past their far fetched promises of “competition” and other buzzwords, you’ll see that that the truth is deregulation hurts regular consumers and small businesses. If we allow energy brokers to come in and “cherry pick” the largest consumers, the rest of us are left holding the bag for generation and transmission.
Certainly, there are ways that all of these providers continue to improve their competitiveness, reliability and their product mix to our State. Completely upending the regulatory structure at a time when there is so much regulatory uncertainty around coal and other forms of energy production is not in the best interests of the State, its business community, or consumers.