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Give Arizonans the choice they deserve when it comes to electricity

As the Arizona Corporation Commission deliberates opening up Arizona’s electricity market, anti-competition voices are busy making claims that the sky will fall if customers are empowered to choose their energy supplier.

Nothing could be farther from the truth, but it’s not hard to understand why APS, SRP, and TEP are spending a great deal of money on a campaign to wrongfully scare people into thinking customer choice is bad. After all, Arizona’s utilities have a government guaranteed monopoly and no worry about ever losing a customer due to poor service or ever-rising prices.

Thankfully, Arizona’s unnecessary monopolies could soon end — and Arizona’s retail electric customers soon empowered — as our five Republican members of the ACC courageously press forward on this issue.

It just makes sense. The marketplace of consumer choice beats the monopoly model in every industry in the United States. Arizona businesses and consumers will reap enormous benefits from electricity competition in terms of price, service, innovation, job growth and greater use of renewable resources.

In the 17 states where customers are allowed to choose, power suppliers compete against each other to provide the best possible service at the lowest possible cost in order to attract and retain customers. As a result, customers have the opportunity to shop for the best electricity price, instead of being stuck with the rates mandated by the monopoly utility.

Opening our electric market to competition will empower Arizona families, businesses, schools, universities, hospitals and local governments by creating the ability to evaluate and shop for the best energy option — just like we do with cable, Internet and telephone service and all of our other important purchases.

In Texas, customers are saving money with lower prices and more options to manage their total energy bill. Residential customers in Texas choose from many different companies offering products and services we can’t get in Arizona. Imagine earning airline miles for paying your electric bill. Or imagine getting a text from your electric company every day telling you how much energy you used the day before and how much you have available in your pre-paid account. 

Imagine an energy company actively seeking your business. Electric customers have this and much more in some states.

Why not us?

Importantly, competition can lead to job growth in Arizona. New companies will emerge and existing companies will grow to serve customers and find better ways to generate, deliver and conserve electricity. Money that local businesses save on electricity bills will be invested back into the Arizona economy and used to create new jobs.

And as an added benefit to the environment, competition has also proven to increase renewable energy use. Many competitive providers offer a variety of renewable energy options to consumers, with some customers able to select 100 percent of their electricity from renewable sources. This increase in demand for green energy encourages production of renewables, something that could maximize the potential of Arizona’s abundant solar resources.

A competitive electricity market will not compromise reliability, because the transmission of electricity will be unaffected and distribution of that power will remain unchanged. The wires system that delivers electricity to homes and businesses over existing power lines will be regulated and function the same way as it is done today.

Arizonans for Electric Choice and Competition (AECC) was formed in 1997 to promote free-market ideals in retail electric service. We thank ACC members Brenda Burns, Gary Pierce, Susan Bitter Smith, Bob Burns, and ACC Chairman Bob Stump for having the courage of their convictions to consider this critically important economic issue.

Stan Barnes, president, Arizonans for Electric Choice and Competition.

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