Solar power interests are pouring money into the election for three vacant seats on the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC), according to press reports.
Save Our AZ Solar, in part supported by SolarCity, has spent $667,082 to help incumbent Republican Bob Burns win re-election to the ACC, local media reported.
Burns, one of three incumbents running for re-election, is the only Republican candidate who has vowed to investigate whether Arizona Public Service (APS) had undue influence on the 2014 regulatory election cycle.
Debates over how to compensate rooftop solar customers have grown contentious in Arizona. Those debates center on arguments over net metering, with solar companies pushing for utilities to compensate customers for rooftop solar installations and utilities pushing back, arguing that those payments unfairly burden lower income customers.
The debates boiled over into controversy with allegations that APS was trying to influence the outcome of ACC decisions and resulted in Burns issuing a subpoena earlier this month to APS and its parent, Pinnacle West, to ascertain whether the companies funded election campaigns for the regulatory commission during the 2014 election cycle.
SolarCity has openly backed Burns apart from the Save AZ Solar group, despite Burns requesting utility companies stay out of the election and its financing in hopes of avoiding the dark money controversy that has clouded the 2014 election. The move could put the solar developer on the wrong side of the election depending on the ultimate outcome.
Five candidates are running for the three vacant seats on the five member ACC. Burns faces fellow Republican incumbents Andy Tobin, as well as publicly funded Republican candidates Al Melvin and Rick Gray, who have nearly $120,000 and $123,000, respectively.
Only two Democrats are running, ensuring that Republicans will maintain majority control of the ACC. Democrats Bill Mundell and Tom Chabin are running with public funding. Mundell has $125,000. Chabin has $132,000.