Arizona Corporation Commission

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The Arizona Corporation Commission is the Public Utilities Commission of the State of Arizona, established by Article 15 of the Arizona Constitution. Arizona is one of only fourteen states with elected commissioners. [1] The Arizona constitution explicitly calls for an elected commission, as opposed to a governor-appointed commission, which is the standard in most states, [2] because its drafters feared that governors would appoint industry-friendly officials. [3] They are directly elected statewide and serve staggered four-year terms.

Arizona state of the United States of America

Arizona is a state in the southwestern region of the United States. It is also part of the Western and the Mountain states. It is the sixth largest and the 14th most populous of the 50 states. Its capital and largest city is Phoenix. Arizona shares the Four Corners region with Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico; its other neighboring states are Nevada and California to the west and the Mexican states of Sonora and Baja California to the south and southwest.


The commission has five members. As of January 2019, the commissioners are Sandra Kennedy, Andy Tobin, Boyd Dunn, Bob Burns, and Justin Olson. [4]

Sandra Kennedy, is an American politician serving on the Arizona Corporation Commission since 2019. Kennedy was first elected to the commission in 2008 but was defeated for re-election in 2012. She ran again for the commission in 2014, but was defeated in the general election. In the 2018 elections she was elected back to the commission. Kennedy served as a member of the state senate from 1992 to 1998 and in the Arizona House of Representatives from 1986 to 1992.

Andy Tobin American politician

Andrew M. Tobin is a member of the Arizona Corporation Commission, appointed by Governor Doug Ducey following the resignation of Susan Bitter Smith. He also served in the Arizona House of Representatives from the state's 1st district and as former Speaker, beginning in 2011.

Boyd Dunn is an American politician who serves on the Arizona Corporation Commission, first being elected in the 2016 election. Prior to serving in the Commission, Dunn served as the mayor of Chandler, Arizona from 2002 to 2011.

Responsibilities and duties

The commission's scope of responsibility is generally larger than most commissions in other states. Some of its major duties include regulating public utility companies, regulating the incorporation of businesses and organizations, securities regulation, and railroad/pipeline safety.

In January 2018, a member of the commission proposed an energy plan that includes an 80 percent clean energy target and a 3,000 MW energy storage procurement target, which would surpass California and New York. [5]


The current Chairman of the Arizona Corporation Commission is Thomas Forese.

Thomas Forese American politician and a Republican member of the Arizona Corporation Commission

Thomas "Tom" Forese is an American politician, a Republican, and former chairman of the Arizona Corporation Commission. He was also in the Arizona House of Representatives representing District 17. Forese also previously served consecutively from January 10, 2011 until January 14, 2013 in the District 21 seat.

Prior to January 5, 2016, the chairman was Susan Bitter Smith. She joined the commission in 2013. [6]

Susan Bitter Smith American politician

Susan Bitter Smith is currently the vice-president of Technical Solutions, and executive director Arizona/New Mexico Cable Communications Association. She is a registered Republican in the state of Arizona, and has held multiple public offices. She most recently served as Chairman of the Arizona Corporation Commission., but resigned in December 2015 amid controversy. Prior to serving on the ACC, she was president of the Central Arizona Project, and before that Vice Mayor for Scottsdale, Arizona. She has also served as a member for American Society of Association Executives. Her other memberships include, St. Theresa Catholic School Development Board, and president of the ASU Walter Cronkite Endowment Board (1998–1999)

As of 2015, the Arizona Attorney General’s office began investigating a complaint that seeks to have Bitter Smith removed from her position due to conflict-of-interest issues. As chair of the commission, Bitter Smith is in charge of regulating the telecommunications industry. However, at the same time, she was a lobbyist for the industry, [7] running her own public relations firm called Technical Solutions. Until recently, the company described itself on its website as a “full service government affairs company including direct federal, state and local lobbying activities with agencies ranging from the Federal Communications Commission, to the Arizona Corporation Commission, to the Arizona Legislature and Arizona municipalities.” [6] The description from Technical Solution's website was removed after the Arizona Attorney General began investigating the complaint against her. [6]

Arizona Attorney General attorney general for the U.S. state of Arizona

The Arizona Attorney General is the chief legal officer of the state of Arizona, in the United States. This state officer is the head of the Arizona Department of Law, more commonly known as the Arizona Attorney General’s Office. The state attorney general is a constitutionally-established officer, elected by the people of the state to a four-year term.

An attorney with the Arizona Corporation Commission, Eric Hill, quit his position in June 2016 and began a new job representing rooftop solar companies such as SolarCity at the Scottsdale, Arizona-based Rose Law Group. The law firm represented solar companies in legal battles between solar companies and the Arizona Public Services Company (APS), which is the largest and oldest electric company in Arizona. [8] [9] The legal battles were about net metering; the two sides argued over how much electric rates should be and how much refunds should be to homeowners running rooftop solar panels. [8]

Hearing Division

The Hearing Division, under the supervision of the Chief Hearing Officer, conducts evidentiary hearings and issues recommended orders for the Commissioners' consideration and approval. Chief Hearing Officers, since creation of the position, have been:

Regulation of public utilities

As part of its role in regulating public utilities, the Commission established a Renewable Energy Standard and Tariff (REST) [10] in 2006. To provide public information related to implementation of the REST, the Commission together with the regulated electric utilities in Arizona have developed a website called Arizona Goes Solar. [11] The authority for the Commission to establish a renewable energy standard has been challenged several times in court by the Goldwater Institute (see Miller v. Arizona Corporation Commission). The standard was most recently upheld by the Arizona Court of Appeals in April 2011. [12]

Current commissioners

Current Corporation Commissioners as of 2019 are Andy Tobin (R), Bob Burns (Chair - R), Boyd Dunn (R), Justin Olson (R), and Sandra Kennedy (D). [13]

Andy Tobin by Gage Skidmore 3.jpg
Commissioner Andy Tobin
Bob Burns.jpg
Commission Chair Bob Burns
Justin Olson by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Commissioner Justin Olson (R)
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Commissioner Boyd Dunn (R)
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Commissioner Sandra Kennedy (D)

See also

Related Research Articles

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Arizona Public Service company

Arizona Public Service Company is the largest electric utility in Arizona, United States, and the principal subsidiary of publicly traded S&P 500 member Pinnacle West Capital Corporation, which in turn had been formerly named AZP Group, when Arizona Public Service reorganized as that holding company in 1985.

California Public Utilities Commission

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The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) is the public utilities commission of the U.S. state of Ohio, charged with the regulation of utility service providers such as those of electricity, natural gas, and telecommunications as well as railroad safety and intrastate hazardous materials transport.

Gary Pierce American politician

Gary L. Pierce is a former Arizona Corporation Commissioner and a former member of the Arizona House of Representatives.

San Diego Gas & Electric energy utility

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Solana Generating Station

The Solana Generating Station is a solar power plant near Gila Bend, Arizona, about 70 miles (110 km) southwest of Phoenix, completed in 2013. When commissioned it was the largest parabolic trough plant in the world and the first U.S. solar plant with molten salt thermal energy storage. Built by the Spanish company Abengoa Solar, it has a total capacity of 280 megawatts (MW) gross, from two 140 MW gross (125 MW net) steam turbine generators, which is enough to power 70,000 homes while avoiding around 475,000 tons of CO2 every year. Its name is the Spanish term for "sunny spot".

Solar power in Nevada

Solar power in Nevada is growing due to a Renewable Portfolio Standard which requires 20% renewable energy by 2015, and 5% from solar power. The state has abundant open land areas and some of the best solar potential in the country.

Solar power in Arizona

Solar power in Arizona has the potential to, according to then-Governor Janet Napolitano, make Arizona "the Persian Gulf of solar energy". In 2012, Arizona had 1,106 MW of photovoltaic (PV) solar power systems, and 6 MW of concentrated solar power (CSP), bringing the total to over 1,112 megawatts (MW) of solar power. The Solana Generating Station is a 280 MW parabolic trough solar plant which is the largest plant of its type in the world. Solana includes 6 hours of power storage by molten salt. The plant will provide 5% of the power from Arizona Public Service, the state's largest utility.

The National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) is the national association representing the state public service commissioners who regulate essential utility services, including energy, telecommunications, and water. NARUC members are responsible for assuring reliable utility service at fair, just, and reasonable rates. Founded in 1889, the Association is a resource for its members and the regulatory community, providing a venue to set and influence public policy, share best practices, and foster solutions to improve regulation.

The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin is an independent regulatory agency responsible for regulating public utilities in the energy, telecommunications, gas and water companies located in U.S. state of Wisconsin. As of 2010, the agency regulated more than 1,100 electric, natural gas, telephone, water, and water/sewer utilities.

According to the Arizona state Constitution, the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) has the full power to, "prescribe just and reasonable classifications to be used and just and reasonable rates and charges to be made and collected, by public service corporations within the state for service rendered therein, and make reasonable rules, regulations, and orders, by which such corporations shall be governed in the transaction of business within the state…" In a controversial move, the ACC adopted a new policy known as the Renewable Energy Standard and Tariff (REST). REST required public utilities in Arizona to run a certain amount of their power from renewable energy sources. The move brought into question whether the ACC had constitutional authority to impose such a requirement on utilities. The Goldwater Institute filed suit arguing that the ACC had expanded its powers beyond its constitutional jurisdiction. According to the director of the Goldwater Institute Scharf-Norton Center For Constitutional Litigation, Clint Bolick, "The rules are an unconstitutional power grab by an agency that is rapidly becoming Arizona's fourth branch of government." The Arizona Public Service (APS) utility estimated that for the fiscal year of 2008, the cost of the new renewable energy standards would cost $48.2 million. By 2012, the APS estimated the costs would reach $347 million. But Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard, issued an opinion saying that they were within their constitutional jurisdiction to set a renewable energy standard.

Vernon B. Parker is an American politician. He is a member of the Republican Party. Parker served as the Mayor of Paradise Valley, Arizona from 2008 to 2010 and as a Paradise Valley councilmember.

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Net metering in Nevada is a public policy and political issue surrounding the rates that Nevada public utilities are required to pay to purchase excess energy produced by electric customers who generate their own electricity, such as through rooftop solar panels. The issue centers around two policies: paying solar customers the "retail" rate versus the "wholesale" rate.

Stephen Anderson Smith is an American clean energy activist. He is a former candidate for the Tennessee House of Representatives and is currently the Executive Director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.

2018 Arizona elections

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Net metering in Arizona is a public policy and political issue regarding the rates that Arizona utility companies pay solar customers sell excess energy back to the electrical grid. The issue has two political sides: utility companies that to pay solar customers the "wholesale rate" for their excess electricity, and solar panel installers and solar customers who want utility companies to pay the "retail rate".

Barry Wong is a Republican attorney and politician who previously served on the Arizona Corporation Commission and as a member of the Arizona House of Representatives representing the 18th district.


  1. "National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners:". Retrieved 2016-01-10.
  2. "Arizona Corporation Commission:". Retrieved 2015-10-20.
  3. McClory, Toni (2006-12-22). "Arizona's Executive Branch" (PDF).[ dead link ]
  4. "Arizona Corporation Commission". Retrieved 2015-10-20.
  5. "Arizona Regulator Proposes Biggest Storage and Clean Energy Target Yet" . Retrieved 2018-02-07.
  6. 1 2 3 "Roberts: Susan Bitter Smith should resign". azcentral. Retrieved 2015-11-04.
  7. Randazzo, Ryan (19 September 2015). "Utility regulator Susan Bitter Smith no stranger to conflict". The Arizona Republic. Retrieved 20 October 2015.
  8. 1 2 "ACC attorney jumps to law firm representing SolarCity, rooftop interests battling APS". Phoenix Business Journal. 2016-06-13. Retrieved 2016-06-26.
  9. "APS - Company Profile". Arizona Public Services Company. Retrieved 2016-06-26.
  10. "Arizona Corporation Commission:". 2015-03-04. Retrieved 2015-03-18.
  11. "Home page". Retrieved 2015-03-18.
  12. Randazzo, Ryan (2011-04-07). "Appeals Court upholds rule on renewable energy". Retrieved 2015-03-18.
  13. Archived May 2, 2008, at the Wayback Machine