Utility APS purchases another ACC

In the second electoral disaster last night for the solar industry, unlimited corporate spending on elections, including the ability of utilities to fund races for their own regulators, has resulted in all three of the candidates backed by utility Arizona Public Service (APS) winning seats on the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC).

APS parent company Pinnacle West spent $3.5 million through the “AZ Coalition for Reliable Electricity” to fund the races of Andy Tobin (R) Bob Burns (R) and Boyd Dunn (R). In the race that followed, Tobin and Burns were re-elected to their seats, and Dunn was elected to replace Bob Stump (R), who was forced out by term limits.

A group calling itself “Save Our AZ Solar” and backed mostly by SolarCity also put $2.4 million into the races, mostly to support former Commissioner Bill Mandell (D), who came in fourth place in a tight race and thus will not be on the commission.

This means that the pro-APS composition of the ACC remains essentially unchanged, which could mean that key policies such as the Value of Solar docket which is currently underway will likely end in outcomes that are highly unfavorable to the solar industry and highly favorable to the largest sponsor of these races.