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The Inevitable Fall Of Arizona Public Service

A good man used to say “all politics is local.” Whether true or not there’s no doubt it’s cyclical.

Today, Arizona Public Service (APS) is feeling pretty good about itself.  Attempting to foil innovation and more energy choice is its new way of doing business.  After all, the company effectively owned, in the political sense that is, immediate past Arizona Corporation Commissioner Gary Pierce. APS_logo_2011

And after its recent, robust election activity it thinks it owns at least two others.  Whether that’s right or not remains to be seen.

APS’ largesse wasn’t about regard.  It was about their bottom line.  And they will squeeze whoever they have to, most especially their acquired allies, to beat stock expectations or qualify for bonuses.

No matter the issue – rates, solar, regulation, power lines – they will inevitably go too far.  Power can’t help itself.  Neither can arrogance or the demands of Wall Street. 

It happens at the local level all the time.  Developers get friendly with those on city councils.  They then ask for more height, greater densities or large subsidies.  Or maybe all three.  Over time local voters recoil, or want to catch their breath.  Those too friendly to developers get deep sixed.

And so it will be with those too supportive of APS, or any utility as aggressive as it . . . Salt  River Project being the latest to audition for the role.

Ratepayers will have enough.  And/or Citizens United allowing corporate funding of candidate campaigns will go away, just as the Clean Elections system once in vogue is nearly extinct.  Or APS might be acquired by a more enlightened company, as some stock analysts are suggesting.

It wasn’t that long ago that Arizona voters routinely elected Democrats as a check on the perceived abuses of the big utilities.  Republicans weren’t trusted enough.

That day is coming again, as inevitable as the tides and the sun.  It’s just a matter of when.

Arizona voters understand politics and governance can be a lot like chess.  But on that board the people want those it elects to be the king, not the pawn.

 

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