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Group criticizes APS for alleged anti-solar tactics

PHOENIX — A pro-solar group who wants some answers from Arizona Public Service held a protest in Phoenix on Tuesday.

Members of Tell Utilities Solar Won’t Be Killed (TUSK) held picket signs and marched outside of APS headquarters near the Arizona Center.

The group is calling for the power company to “come clean” about its financial support of the campaigns of Arizona Corporation Commission candidates Tom Forese and Doug Little.

The commission regulates APS and other power companies. Solar customer Paul Mark of Peoria said that the two men are both anti-solar and are partial to power companies.

“They are the total mindset of whatever APS tells them to be,” he said.

Members of TUSK also claim APS financially supports outside groups who attack pro-solar candidates.

“We want APS to stop the shady tactics,” Mark said. “We want them to be transparent in their actions because we’re paying them. We’re their customers.”

Mark also criticized APS’ examples of how it supports “going green.” He said that the company’s offer to cut $30 off of the bill of customers who allow the company to put solar panels on their roof doesn’t go far enough.

“There’s absolutely no profit for that customer, other than the discount on their fee, which APS will probably jack the bill up,” he said. “Then there will only be something like $10 off of their bill, you know. I would think that if I were giving up my roof to APS, I would want something more than $30 off of my bill.”

The group believes that the outcome of the upcoming elections will greatly impact APS. The company has been supporting a plan that would have the corporation approve new taxes for solar customers, and it supports property tax on leased rooftop solar systems that would be enforced by the Arizona Department of Revenue. Because of that, the group wants APS to explain why several of its employees recently attended a retirement party for the deputy director of the revenue department.

After the protest, APS issued the following statement:

The political theater that took place outside our building today was the latest in a series of staged attempts to create media attention that advances the campaigns of certain Arizona Corporation Commission candidates by attacking us. It wasn’t a protest, it was a campaign rally.

TUSK and the wealthy California companies that fund it have orchestrated a non-stop propaganda war for the last 18 months, distorting our record and attempting to disrupt our relationships with customers, regulators, investors and employees. They have misrepresented important Arizona energy issues to further the narrow financial interests of their clients.

And now they’ve thrown their support and rhetoric behind candidates for the ACC.

It would be irresponsible for us not to defend our company, which plays a critical role powering Arizona’s economy and supporting our communities. No one disputes our right to participate in the political process, although some have voiced the opinion we should not exercise that right. What should concern all Arizonans is the way these publicity stunts are fueling speculative commentary in the media that is presented as fact, and then used in campaign literature to support certain candidates. Meanwhile, the toxic work of TUSK injecting politics into the regulatory arena goes along with no scrutiny.

In the end, we will continue to work productively and in good faith with any ACC commissioners elected by the citizens of our state. We have faithfully and reliably served Arizona for more than 125 years. That will not change.