The Arizona Corporation Commission is one of those hazy government bodies that few people know anything about. (It’s so obscure, it doesn’t even have a Wikipedia entry yet.) Generally, when commissioners are in the news, it’s because they’ve been hit with a $60 million legal judgment.
So what does the commission do? From the ACC Web site:
By virtue of the Arizona Constitution, the Commissioners function in an Executive capacity, they adopt rules and regulations thereby functioning in a Legislative capacity, and they also act in a Judicial capacity sitting as a tribunal and making decisions in contested matters.
We’re not sure what that means either. Here’s what you really need to know about the ACC: They decide whether utilities can increase rates. (Also, they have some authority to push for alternative energy requirements, which fits in with all that sustainability stuff we hear these days.)
There are three open seats on the ACC this year.
Rep. Marian McClure hopes to bring her experience in the Arizona House of Representatives to bear on the Arizona Corporation Commission. The eight-year veteran of the House is a 16-year resident of Arizona who looks to balance the needs of both consumers and power companies.
“What I’m interested in is trying to keep utility rates as low as possible while letting the company achieve a fair profit,” says McClure. “It’s like one person said, ‘If McClure gets elected, I don’t think I will lose any sleep over my utility rates.’”
Prior to her time with the House of Representatives, McClure worked in the credit department at Sears Roebuck and Company for 10 years, and worked for five years at the Omaha National Bank. After she was informed that her husband’s military career would be slowed if she continued working, she began volunteering at consumer credit counselors. She has also served on the board of directors for CODAC, and was an advisor to the American Red Cross in Sicily, and at Vandenburg Air Force Base.
Among the Republican candidates, Barry Wong is the only one to mention renewable energy as one of the top three issues in their campaign. He also mentions protecting Arizonans from investment fraud and ensuring quality and reliable water as campaign focuses. Wong is also unique in that he served on the corporation commission previously, acting as the commissioner of the organization in 2006 to finish the term for an empty seat. This experience has impacted his outlook on the Commission.
“My 2006 tenure as a Commissioner on the Arizona Corporation Commission taught me the great importance the ACC plays in supporting and sustaining the growth of this state through ensuring the sufficiency and reliability of infrastructure for providing essential services such as energy, electric and natural gas, and water. I was fully engaged in every aspect of the ACC’s functions and know there is much work to be done.”
Wong has run his own law office since 2000. Prior to that, he served for eight years in the Arizona House of Representatives. He is involved in the Arizona Power Plant and Transmission Line Sighting Committee, and has spent time with both the University of Arizona Alumni and the Arizona Supreme Court Committee on Character and Fitness. Also, in forming snap judgments on candidates based solely on their interaction with your intrepid reporter, he’s a fast e-mail responder.
Bob Stump is the second of the current Republican State Representatives running for the Corporation Commission named Bob. His big 3 focuses for his campaign are keeping the interests of the rate payer and consumer first (mentioned by every Republican candidate), fighting the good fight against security fraud and developing new water and energy infrastructure. Although it’s not mentioned in his top issues, Stump also at least pays some mention to clean energy.
“I hope to put my public policy experience to use by pursuing sensible pragmatic energy and water policies; ensuring that we have the infrastructure in place for our rapidly expanding state; and guaranteeing the fair treatment of Arizona’s ratepayers. We need to pursue all avenues of energy production for the sake of energy which is cleaner, more convenient to obtain, and cheaper.”
His mention of cleaner energy makes him one of two Republican candidates who mentioned any sort of clean-energy consideration. Stump has been in the Arizona House of Representatives since 2002. In his time there, he’s been the chair of the House Health Committee, the Vice Chair of the Health and Rules committees and a member of the House Water and Agriculture Committee, which seems somewhat related to the Corporation Commissions duties. He’s also acted on the Commerce and Military Affairs, Ways and Means, Financial Institutions and insurance and a number of other committees. He’s volunteered with the Alzheimer’s Association and Cancer Society’s Relay for Life, He’s been a small business owner and a journalist, and he likely loves puppies. Who doesn’t?