- Arizona Corporation Commissioner Bob Burns has hired an outside attorney to look into the current ratemaking process, saying the procedures have been susceptible to improper influences, Capital Media Services reports.
- Burns did not name any targets or subjects of the investigation, though he has previously voiced frustration with Pinnacle West, the parent company of Arizona utility Arizona Public Service Co. (APS) for not disclosing political contributions.
- Attorney and Georgetown University law projessor Scott Hempling was hired to conduct the the inquiry, with his findings and recommendations due Dec. 15.
Allegations of dark money in 2014 election cycle continue to haunt the ACC and are the underlying basis for Burns' new inquiry.
Since the election, solar interests and utilities in the state have voiced concerns about the other sector's political contributions.
In particular, APS was accused of contributing funds to an independent group supporting the campaigns of current Commissioners Tom Forese and Doug Little.
A Sept. 2015 ACC filing raised those allegations during a controversial year that saw utilities propose to raise fees on rooftop solar and reduce net metering credits.
The election issues are now part of an ongoing investigation into the 2014 election cycle by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Now Chairman of the ACC, Doug Little told the Arizona Republic that he sees little need for Burns' action.
"I haven't seen a single instance of any decision made by any commissioner that would give any remote clue of undue influence," he said.
The ACC is currently facing a couple of general rate cases that again raise the question over how to compensate distributed generation.
UES Electric, a sister company of Tucson Electric, has proposed a rate structure that includes options for demand charges and time-of-use rates. APS is also back in the spotlight with its general rate case requesting demand charges for nearly all of its customers. Both proposals netted backlash from solar advocates, who say the proposals are not the best way to value solar.