Arizona Corporation Commission
1200 W Washington St.
Phoenix, AZ 85007
RE: Proposed Changes to the Public Comment Process, Docket No. AU-00000A-16-0141
Chairman O’Connor and Commissioners:
Please consider the following comments on the Arizona Corporation Commission’s (ACC) pursuit of modifying how it considers public comment and implements a version of Robert’s Rules of Order for Thursday’s Staff Open Meeting. We wish to express our concern about the Commission’s vote during the May 1st Staff Open Meeting to keep these proposed changes private and away from public viewing. While keeping sensitive information confidential is reasonable, shielding proposed rule changes or procedures that will determine how everyday Arizonans participate at the Commission is not.
We recognize that the proposed changes are meant to guide the operations of the ACC. However, that operation has a compelling public interest, and the document should be widely available.
The commissioners are elected, and the ACC is considered a public agency for purposes of the public records law, open meeting law, and other provisions intended to ensure transparency and accountability. The ACC must allow meaningful opportunities for public comment. Not doing so would run contrary to the ACC's mission and leave commissioners to hear overwhelmingly from those monopolies it is charged to regulate. Those monopolies have disproportionate resources to lobby the ACC, and public comment is a critical counterbalance.
Considering these concerns, we offer feedback on the proposed rule changes released upon a public records request below:
Rule 2. Requiring that people register in advance to provide public comment will severely limit participation by everyday Arizonans, everyday ratepayers, who are most affected by the ACC's decisions. It is challenging enough already for them to participate in these processes, but this would make it even more so. Sometimes people do not know if they can get time off work ahead of time. They may only understand how an item affects them once they hear more about it. Frequently, last-minute amendments can alter agenda items and significantly change a proposal; individuals may want to respond to that as well.
Rule 3. As nonprofits, some of which have a significant membership base, we represent individual ratepayers, people who cannot otherwise be at the ACC, whose voices would not be heard if we did not speak up for them. Curtailing our participation and our opportunity to address important issues before the ACC will also silence their voices. It is inappropriate to require various stakeholders or individual entities, such as nonprofits, to designate a spokesperson. Different organizations cannot speak for each other and, even if they were, the ACC needs to hear various perspectives on the issues before it, even if the recommendations are consistent. Requiring the designation of a spokesperson devalues individual experiences and perspectives and further disadvantages those that disagree with the utilities, which have far more power and resources in these matters.
Rule 4. Public commenters should be granted a minimum of three minutes to speak. Again, there should not be a deadline to sign up to speak as long as the item has not been concluded, and as the rule is drafted now, the public comment period could be shorter than three minutes. Time limits should only be utilized when necessary due to the significant length of an agenda item. Otherwise, this rule only serves to limit public voices.
Rule 6. Further, no public comment should ever be limited to one minute. That is not a meaningful amount of time to convey important and often complex information. See our comments above on Rule 2, as well.
Rule 7. As long as an individual wishes to comment and the item has not concluded (i.e., voted on or completed and the next item is called), those who wish to speak but have not been afforded their three minutes should be permitted to speak.
Talking to ACC staff should also not be prohibited. Staff represent the ACC as stakeholders in various proceedings, and communication should be encouraged among stakeholders not limited. As has been discussed at several meetings, Staff also need more resources and capacity. Commissioners have mentioned the number of empty positions multiple times. Therefore, stakeholders should be able to engage with Staff should there be an inadvertent error or miscommunication.
It is also imperative that stakeholders have the opportunity to reply to comments made by the utilities, Staff, or Commissioners during a proceeding. Limiting a stakeholder’s comments to three minutes with no opportunity to reply makes the conversation more likely to be one-sided with the utilities offered numerous opportunities to speak.
The ACC’s processes and procedures already make it difficult for many average Arizonans and most of the ratepayers to participate. The rules you have before you now will not facilitate their participation but will only make it more difficult.
We ask that you not vote on changes to the public comment process on the May contingency date and instead post these proposed changes to the docket so that all stakeholders and at least some of the larger public have the opportunity to review and file comments and any changes be addressed at an Open Meeting, not a Staff Meeting, so that they also have the opportunity to speak. We recommend a 30-day time period between posting the proposed changes and any vote.
Support for Arizona Public Service (APS) and Tucson Electric Power (TEP)’s Request for an Extension of Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) Filing Deadline
The Joint Signatories, all members of APS and/or TEP’s IRP Advisory Council, write to support APS and TEP’s request to extend the deadline for filing their IRPs from August 1st, 2023, to November 1st, 2023, contingent on timely access to the modeling software and training.
The APS and TEP Resource Planning Advisory Councils (RPAC) comprise a diverse group of stakeholders and community representatives the RPACs have been providing input to APS and TEP on their next IRP on behalf of residential and business customers, local governments, public schools, the limited-income community, and the solar and environmental community, among others.
We have been meeting monthly since the spring of 2021 for APS, and the fall of 2022 for TEP, to share perspectives and provide input to help both utilities chart a long-term integrated resource plan that maintains reliable, affordable electric service through a balanced, flexible resource mix, which also advances sustainable outcomes. Meetings have addressed topics vital to developing a comprehensive, integrated resource plan, such as load forecasting, existing resource fleet and transmission systems, technology options and costs, and environmental impacts. During these meetings, stakeholders have been invited to listen, offer feedback, and pose questions. Participants have also been encouraged to present their own views. All meeting materials, agendas, and summaries are publicly available on APS and TEP’s RPAC websites.
Also, pursuant to the Commission’s Decision 78499, APS and TEP are preparing to provide access to modeling licenses for RPAC members so that they will have the ability to conduct their own modeling analysis to better inform and provide feedback to the final IRP scenarios. However, APS and TEP have not yet provided RPAC members with the model licenses or data necessary to start the modeling efforts. Because the three months remaining before the August 1st deadline is not enough time to give this process the due diligence it deserves, a three-month extension to November 1st, 2023, is justified.
This new engagement model provides value to the Commission, APS, TEP, and other stakeholders by:
Because this is the first time this kind of advisory structure with modeling access has been implemented, ensuring that all RPAC participants have a solid understanding of various complex energy issues is essential. As such, many of the RPAC’s initial meetings have focused on education and information sharing. While these educational sessions have been valuable and necessary, the RPAC members have yet to receive the modeling licenses or modeling data and have not begun reviewing and providing input on the dozens of modeled IRP portfolios that APS and TEP produce. Approving APS and TEP’s request to extend the deadline for the filing of their IRPs from August 1st, 2023, to November 1st, 2023, and providing RPAC members access to the modeling license no later than May 2023, would enable the completion of this vital work. This deadline extension should be contingent on the utilities timely providing license access and training. The extension should require APS and TEP to provide access to the model and the requisite training within 30 calendar days of the decision.
Thank you for considering our comments, and we encourage the Commission to discuss this matter during the May Contingency Open Meeting date on May 11th.
Arizona Corporation Commission
1200 W. Washington Street
Phoenix, AZ 85007
RE: Joint Exceptions to Tucson Electric Power Company’s PPFAC rate adjustment Recommended Opinion and Order, Docket No. E-01933A-19-0028
Dear Chairman O’Connor and Members of the Arizona Corporation Commission,
On behalf of the Residential Utility Consumer Office (RUCO), Freeport McMoRan, Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP), Arizona Solar Energy Industries Association (AriSEIA), Vote Solar, and Wildfire, we appreciate the opportunity to provide the attached proposed amendment to Commission Staff’s proposed Order regarding Tucson Electric Power’s (TEP) request to increase the Purchased Power and Fuel Adjustment Clause (PPFAC). In response to the TEP continuing to have a sizable under-collected balance in recent years, we would like to offer a joint amendment to address forward-looking adjustments attached herein.
Thank you for considering our amendment, and we look forward to discussing this matter during the May 2nd Open Meeting.
Keep up with the latest solar energy news!