3 Arizona Regulators Reject Allegations Of Bias In APS Net Metering Decisions

By Will Stone
Published: Tuesday, October 6, 2015 - 1:06pm
Updated: Wednesday, October 7, 2015 - 10:08am

Three of Arizona's top regulators will not recuse themselves from voting on how the state’s largest utility charges customers with rooftop solar.

Last month, solar company SunRun requested Arizona Corporation Commissioner Bob Stump be removed from rate making decisions involving Arizona Public Service and solar net metering because of alleged bias against the solar industry.

In separate motions, two former corporation commissioners and SunRun also called for Commissioners Doug Little and Tom Forese's removal from the net metering decision, arguing that alleged dark money spending by APS and its parent company on their campaigns has compromised public trust in the two commissioners and a rehearing should take place. APS has rejected that contention and chalked up the complaints to a broader political strategy by the industry to “undermine serious policy discussion.”

Both commissioners rejected the accusations and the deadlines to act on those filings will expire this week.

“I am not disqualified from decision-making by any conflict of interest because none exists,” wrote Little.

In a strongly worded response filed on Monday, Stump also made it clear he also would not back down.

According to the complaint, such statements showed Stump could not be objective in his quasi-judicial role as a commissioner. All of this was shot down by Stump, who said, “I was not — and am not — biased against any party or any position taken herein.” He continued that his statements about net metering are part of a larger debate and do not directly reflect APS’s position, nor should Facebook posts or satirical writing be framed as official positions.

MORE: Arizona One Of Many States Debating Solar Net Metering

The solar rooftop industry is “populated by Victorian fan-wavers, yearning for a fainting couch, who must be protected from such humor,” wrote Stump, who is embroiled in a high-profile public records battle over deleted text messages sent during last election.

Recently, APS said it may withdraw its bid to raise rates on rooftop solar this year, but requested the commission hold a hearing on how net metering shifts cost onto its other customers.

On Monday, the commission staff recommended all those issues be addressed during a full rate case next year.

Meanwhile, Commissioner Bob Burns has proposed subpoenaing APS to disclose whether it was responsible for any campaign contributions in the last corporation commission election.

Updated 10/7/2015 at 9:59 a.m.