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2014 ACC Candidates Respond to Questions
*** 2014 ACC Candidates Respond to Questions***
Updated to Inlcude Only the Questionnaire Reponses From Candidates Left in the General Election

AIC recently asked the seven candidates running for the ACC to tell us about their views on several issues facing regulation of energy, water and telecommunications utilities in Arizona.  In our request to the candidates, we told them we would post their written responses (un-edited) to the six questions on the AIC website.  The responses below are only those of the candidates remaining in the general election.

Here are the questions and their responses:

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Solar Power an Issue for Commission Candidates
Solar Power an Issue for Commission Candidates

Ryan Randazzo, The Republic | azcentral.com 10:32 a.m. MST September 14, 2014 -- The two Democrats who hope to regulate utilities in Arizona admit they face an uphill battle winning election in a Republican state, but they insist they are on the right side of the issue that resonates most with voters: renewable power.

Meanwhile, the two Republicans running for the open seats on the Arizona Corporation Commission, who are widely expected to win the election, say they support renewable energy in a balanced mix of energy sources, and they strongly support nuclear power as well.

The four face off Nov. 4 in the general election for two open seats on the five-member Arizona Corporation Commission.

The commission sets the rates and regulations for utilities such as Arizona Public Service Co., Tucson Electric Power and Southwest Gas Corp.

Those utilities all face major challenges with environmental regulations at coal plants, requirements for efficiency and other matters. But the commission's requirements that electric utilities get an increasing amount of power from renewables until they reach 15 percent in 2025 seems to stir the hearts of voters most.

Every candidate has taken notice.

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APS Plans to Close One of the Four Generators at Cholla Power Plant
APS Plans to Close One of the Four Generators at Cholla Power Plant

Cholla Plant

Ryan Randazzo, The Republic | azcentral.com 1:55 p.m. MST September 11, 2014 --  Arizona Public Service Co. plans to close one of the four generators at northern Arizona's Cholla Power Plant, adding to a string of coal-plant closures in the West.

Under a proposal APS is discussing with the Environmental Protection Agency, the No. 2 unit at the plant would close in 2016, and the No. 1 and 3 units could convert to natural gas or close in 2025 when the plant's coal contract expires.

While more coal closures are expected because of the recent EPA decision to reduce carbon emissions from them, Cholla's closure is being spurred by rules regarding mercury and haze pollution.

In 2010 the EPA notified the utility that Cholla's No. 2 unit would need new pollution controls to limit mercury, then in 2012 proposed additional pollution controls on the No. 2, 3 and 4 units to limit nitrogen-oxide emissions that contribute to haze.

"We believe we can comply with the EPA rules by closing Unit 2," said Ann Becker, APS vice president of environmental and chief sustainability officer. "There will be no more emissions from that unit, and we can negotiate something with the EPA better than the environmental benefits by either closing or converting the others."

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Renewable-Energy Project Gives State Fastest Clean-Energy Job Growth
Renewable-Energy Project Gives State Fastest Clean-Energy Job Growth

By: Brittany Bade/Cronkite News/September 9, 2014

WASHINGTON – Arizona businesses announced plans earlier this year to hire more than 3,000 workers in clean-energy industries, letting the state claim the biggest growth in renewable-energy jobs in the nation for the second quarter of 2014.

A report released Aug. 28 by Environmental Entrepreneurs said the bulk of the new Arizona jobs – and a large share of the total planned for the nation – could be attributed to the proposed Solar Wind Energy Tower project in San Luis. Developers of that project said they plan to add 2,350 workers, with most of those being construction jobs at the $1.5 billion plant.

That announcement allowed Arizona to knock California out of first place for the quarter.

“It’s tough to compete with California because there’s just less of us,” said Susan Bitter Smith, a commissioner with Arizona Corporation Commission. “But Arizona is always in the top three because it’s a place of great opportunity for renewable energy.”

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TEP Proposal Could Mean More Solar Power in Tucson
TEP Proposal Could Mean More Solar Power in Tucson

Chris Flora, Inside Tucson Business//Friday, September 5, 2014 -- Tucson Electric Power (TEP) could soon provide homeowners with solar power without any up-front costs.
 
A proposal still to go before the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC), if approved, would mean residential TEP customers who opt-in to the program could have solar panels installed and maintained without immediately coming out of pocket.
 
Once installed, customers would pay a flat energy rate for the next 25 years, according to TEP spokesman Joseph Barrios.

Barrios estimates customers who consume an average amount for electrical energy would pay about the same when converting to solar, but says the benefits of converting to solar come in the long run.

“They may not immediately save money – there is a variant about 15 percent above and below annual usage, but the potential for savings comes if and when energy rates go up,” he said. “If rates go up, a customer is locked into paying their standard solar rate, estimated at $99 per month.”

The idea is to more broadly introduce solar into the community.

“We like to think of ourselves as being innovative, and strong supporters of solar,” said Barrios. “We have a tradition of looking at ways to integrate solar, and we recognize our customers are interested in it as an energy option as well.”

The solar program would not apply to businesses or other non-residential facilities.

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Little-Forese Team Wins Corporation Commission Republican Primary
Little-Forese Team Wins Corporation Commission Republican Primary

Ryan Randazzo, The Republic | azcentral.com 10:33 p.m. MST August 26, 2014 -- Tom Forese and Doug Little won the Republican primary for the Arizona Corporation Commission Tuesday night, beating two candidates supported by the rooftop solar industry, according to unofficial returns.

The five-member commission's primary focus is setting rates and policies for electric and water utilities. It also regulates telecommunications, securities, pipeline and railroad-crossing safety, and facilitates the incorporation of businesses.

The Republican primary race for two open seats on the commission has been extremely contentious, with more than $1.6 million spent on advertising by an array of independent groups.

Forese and Little ran as a team, as did Vernon Parker and Lucy Mason, though voters did not have to vote for any particular pair.

Forese and Little benefited from more than $1 million in spending by groups that do not disclose their donors, though they appear to have ties to Arizona Public Service Co. and the Home Builders Association of Central Arizona.

A group funded by rooftop-solar leasing companies called TUSK, Tell Utilities Solar Won't be Killed, supported Parker and Mason.

Forese is an educational-software executive and a state representative who chairs the House Commerce Committee.

Little is a retired software-industry executive and current gun-range operator.

Parker is an attorney and former mayor of Paradise Valley.

Mason is a former architectural illustrator and small-business woman, and state representative who once chaired the Energy and Water Committee, and a former Prescott Councilwoman

 

 
CenturyLink Signs on First Small Business Customer for Its Ultra-High-Speed Internet Service
CenturyLink Signs on First Small Business Customer for Its Ultra-High-Speed Internet Service

Angelieque Soenarie, The Republic | azcentral.com, August 18, 2014 -- CenturyLink, Inc. has signed on its first small business customer for its new one gigabit Internet service, which has been touted as being 100 times faster than current Internet speeds.

Two weeks ago, the Louisiana-based company announced the expansion of its ultra-high-speed Internet and data service to small and medium-sized businesses in 16 cities, including Phoenix.

"Weebly's move to Scottsdale aligned with our gigabit fiber network upgrades, and we're excited to provide Weebly with 1 gigabit service that should help enable them to become even more successful in the future," said Ken McMahon, CenturyLink's Phoenix market vice president and general manager.

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