Corporation Commission Allows More Development In Johnson Utilities’ Territory

Published: Tuesday, June 11, 2019 - 5:16pm

The Arizona Corporation Commission acted Tuesday to allow more development in the Johnson Utilities service area, a sign of cautious optimism growing among the parties controlling the troubled company’s fate.

The commission appointed EPCOR as an interim manager for Johnson in 2018 after repeated complaints from customers over low water pressure and sewage overflows.

The commission also instituted a partial moratorium on the number of connections to new customers in one of the fastest growing areas of home development in the country.

At a meeting Tuesday, the commission voted to amend that moratorium, allowing more development in two sections of the Johnson territory.

Corporation Commission Staff Attorney Wes Van Cleve said commission staff met with builders, developers and EPCOR to see if there were was a compromise that could be reached to change the meter management program.

“The modification that is before you is to allow, instead of one connection per community per builder, it allows for two,” Van Cleve said of the proposed new partial moratorium. He said the new limit would be in place for an additional six months before the commission would review it again.

Speaking on behalf of EPCOR, Jason Gellman told the commission the interim manager was in agreement with the proposed amendment.

Commissioner Justin Olson asked EPCOR if they were still confident the company could meet peak demand this summer.

EPCOR Vice President Troy Day said current production capacity exceeds demand on a daily basis.

“Now, that’s with everything working,” Day said. “We don’t meet firm capacity, which means if something goes out we’re going to have a problem. We also don’t meet peak demand, which is why we’re not ready to meet peak demand.”

But Day added that deficit was “muted” by water storage capacity EPCOR recently had obtained.

“We believe we’re going to be OK,” Day said. “We’ve got critical spares standing by in case any of the wells go down. We can replace pumps and motors within 48 hours. So we believe we’re going to make it through the summer alright.”

But Day acknowledged to the commission there wasn’t a large margin of error.

Johnson Utility’s attorney said the company would like an opportunity to show it can handle more development and requested the moratorium be reexamined sooner so it could be potentially lifted earlier.

EPCOR officials said they did not think the moratorium should be lifted until the end of 2019.

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