- Arizona Corporation Commission member Doug Little announced this week that he will leave the agency at the end of the month to take a position at the U.S. Department of Energy.
- Little will serve as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Intergovernmental and External Affairs, beginning Oct. 2. His last day as an Arizona regulator will be Sept. 29.
- Little was elected in 2014 to the ACC and served as chair in 2016. He led the agency as it took on the value-of-solar proceeding that ended retail net metering in exchange for a rate closer to the utility's avoided cost. His departure means Gov. Doug Ducey (R) will appoint another commissioner to fill his seat.
Little will leave the ACC amid contention over Arizona Public Service's financial records and a court fight over the utility's rate case. He will head to Washington, D.C., where according to Arizona Capitol Media Services, he will be defending coal.
Little gave an extensive interview to CMS, telling the news service that he was joining the Trump administration to maintain “fossil baseload generation."
In a statement, he hit upon key themes from the DOE as he touted his efforts to examine the impact from waning baseload generation and subsequent effects on the "reliability and resiliency of the western electric grid."
However, Little said his focus on maintaining baseload generation — specifically coal — will not come at the expense of wind and solar. Indeed, Little previously proposed to double the state's Renewable Portfolio Standard and include a carve out for energy storage. It's unclear how his state priorities will transfer to his new federal duties.
In his two-year tenure, Little faced public blowback from the rancorous 2014 elections as solar advocates questioned if he and then-candidate Tom Forese held close ties to utilities. Critics have claimed APS' parent company contributed $3.2 million to independent groups supporting the election bids of Little and Forese. APS has neither denied or confirmed the accusations.
Little told Utility Dive last year the acrimony in regulatory elections set the tone for his tenure.
“I almost almost hesitate to say it, but it was almost like [they painted me as] the nasty Republican who likes dirty air and [will] push their grandmother out of her home because they'll make the rates go up," he reflected at the time.
Little's vote was key to the commission setting up a lengthy investigation to the value of solar. At the end of 2016, the ACC voted to to end retail net metering in favor of a rate close to a utility's avoided cost. The decision proved controversial among solar interests, who later hashed out a settlement with APS over future solar rates. Little also faced pressure from his colleague Bob Burns, who accused his fellow commissioners of siding with utility interests.
Last month, Little and other regulators voted 4-1 to raise rates for Arizona Public Service and to approve a settlement setting new rates for excess solar sent to the grid. But Commissioner Burns has asked the state's Supreme Court to overturn the decision, related to his ongoing fight with APS and other commission members over dark money funding independent groups.