Page 7 - the Noise October 2017
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The correlation between Arizona Public Service, Palo Verde
Nuclear Generating Station, and uranium mining at Grand Canyon
is astounding. The price of uranium APS purchases is regulated by the
Nuclear Regulatory Commission, a branch of the federal government;
the price APS is allowed to charge for electricity generated from the
uranium is regulated by the Arizona Corporation Commission, an elected branch of the state government. Profits of this transaction are dispersed among stockholders of Pinnacle West, APS’ “parent capital” corporation. In this last decade, APS has successfully petitioned to raise rates 4 times, for a total increase of 18.6% since 2005. During that same period of time, the Arizona Median Household Income has actually declined by -4.1%. It is suspected APS/Pinnacle West has used between $33-$57 million of the revenues it receives from ratepayers to fund the campaigns of dozens of public officials, including all 5 of the current sitting Commissioners.
illustration by Jury Judge
Residential customers who are wary of smart meters will have their analog meters re- placed by non-transmitting digital meters. At least, Mr. Woodward said, “the non-transmit- ting digitals APS has used so far (and is proposing to use) really are non-transmitting. I’ve measured them,” he continued. “They do not have a Switching-Mode Power Supply [SMPS] either.” SMPS in electrical meters has been named as a culprit for causing high electro- magnetic frequency (EMF) spikes that interfere with electrical and electronic equipment, damaging biological systems in its field and causing health issues in humans.
In addition, for those who currently have smart meters and wish to have them replaced with a non-transmitting digital meter, APS will charge a $50 fee to change the meter. Howev- er, anyone who does not currently have a smart meter will not be charged the installation fee.
Another provision Mr. Woodward refers to as “highly discriminatory” states that custom- ers will lose their right to refuse a smart meter if “Company employees have received verbal or physical threats, including, but not limited to, verbal threats while installing meters or performing maintenance to Company equipment, and physical threats such as weapons or dogs.” Mr. Woodward says this provision singles out those who have refused smart meters but does not apply to the rest of APS’ customer base. “When they come to take your analog meter,” Mr. Woodward said, “my suggestion is to suffer in silence.”
Mr. Woodward has repeatedly argued that APS has provided no evidence or documenta- tion that the costs of deploying smart meters will be surpassed by the meters’ benefits nor have they set any goals or collected data on how many customers are accessing the provided usage data. “APS provided absolutely no figures whatsoever to back its claim that its ‘smart’ meters ‘provide a multitude of benefits to customers that far outweigh the investment.’”
At press time, APS has not made a formal announcement about how and when it will roll out smart meter “opt-out” fees, but the agreement allowed them to begin on October 1. However, in addition to Mr. Woodward’s appeal of the rate change and fee decision, Com- missioner Burns is still pursuing legal action against his fellow commissioners to investigate campaign contributions made by APS through third-party groups, known as “dark” money. A decision made in favor of either has the potential to reverse the rate case order.
Commissioner Burns has been asking Pinnacle West and APS to release information about its contributions to Arizona elections since 2011. Of particular interest has been the 2014 campaigns of Commissioners Doug Little and Tom Forese. It is estimated that APS contributed between $3 and $10 million to their elections through third party organiza- tions. As long as the contributions “did not come out of the pockets of ratepayers,” advo- cates of the Citizens United US Supreme Court decision might not see anything illegal about APS making them. But observers point to APS’ only source of revenue being “the rates it charges for electricity” as proof of ratepayers’ unbeknownst felonious contributions to
“influencing the election of utility regulators.” And Mr. Burns has maintained that “transpar- ency is necessary” and requested that Messrs. Little and Forese “recuse themselves from the rate case because they wouldn’t be able to be impartial.”
Mr. Burns initially took his case to Maricopa Superior Court and has now elevated his requests for disclosure to Arizona State Supreme Court, petitioning the high court to vacate the rate hike recently granted to APS by the ACC. His attorney, Bill Richards, wants the court to force commissioners and APS to provide the information Mr. Burns has asked for so that it can be determined whether any of the commissioners should be disqualified from APS’ rate change request.
His petition to the court states:
“Unless this Court acts immediately to address the several novel constitutional questions of statewide importance ... millions of Arizona consumers will immediately feel the economic impact of an unlawfully concluded rate-setting proceeding.”
During the rate case, Mr. Burns tried to convince fellow commissioners that, in light of his pending legal actions, any monies collected from rates increased by the order should be placed in escrow so that refunds would be readily available if he prevailed in his lawsuit. Of course, this was rejected.
Earlier in August, ACC commissioners voted to hire lawyers for everyone except Com- missioner Burns. This came after Mr. Burns expanded his existing lawsuit to name each of the other four commissioners who he has accused of illegally obstructing his efforts to question APS executives. Because Mr. Burns is the one who filed the lawsuit, the other com- missioners decided the body shouldn’t have to pay to defend him as well. His lawyer has continued to work for him pro bono.
In an attempt to turn the fight back onto Mr. Burns, APS has filed documents with Maricopa County Superior Court accusing him of an illegal power grab. APS attorney Mary O’Grady argued that only the Arizona Legislature has the power to demand more information from the utility company than what it has already provided.
And now, Commissioner Little isn’t even going to hang around and see how this all plays out. He was offered a job in Washington, DC and left his ACC post on September 29. He joins the Department of Energy as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Intergovernmental and External Affairs. In that capacity, he will influence energy decisions at the federal level in a role that will position him as a primary contact with stakeholder organizations and state, local, territorial, and tribal governments.
Sedona Smart Meter Awareness (SSMA), a consumer advocacy group that has stood up for ratepayers’ rights to refuse smart meters, issued a press release and statement on September 12 announcing a program to reimburse area residents that will now be subject to monthly fees. “Sedona Smart Meter Awareness urges anyone who is currently opted-out to keep your current meter and will help you do so,” the statement reads.
SSMA is offering to reimburse APS customers if they choose to continue to refuse installa- tion of a smart meter. “If and when the opt-out charges begin, Sedona Smart Meter Aware- ness will be implementing a program to pay the $5 a month opt-out fee for Sedona and VOC APS customers who request reimbursement. This program will be confidential and no-questions-asked. Our goal at SSMA is to make sure that no one in the greater Sedona area feels forced to accept a smart meter for economic reasons.”
The program will be administered by Sedonan Jon Thompson who can be contacted at or 928-821-4142. SSMA encourages anyone who would like to be kept informed about the program to contact Mr. Thompson. In addition, anyone who would like to make a donation to help sustain the reimbursement plan may also get in touch with him.
Some final news came from a confidential source deemed to be reliable by those in-the- know, that APS will not be rushing out to remove all existing analog meters this month or even forcing smart meters on solar customers that have so far refused. It seems the utility may stick to its current policy of not removing analog meters until their service life actu- ally ends. Though this policy may be in place, keep in mind that APS has the legal right to remove analog meters and any objections expressed at employees in the field will forfeit one’s right to continue to refuse a transmitting smart meter.
“I will still be appealing the ACC’s Order for several reasons,” said Mr. Woodward. “One is that customers should not be at the mercy of APS since that mercy can disappear whenever APS wants.” | the NOISE arts & news | OctObEr 2017 • 7

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