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Former Arizona sheriff fights new villain: ‘demand charges’

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I’ve pretty much heard it all in my many years as an Arizona sheriff.

Con men, burglars and thieves can spin pretty good tales about why they did what they did, and why a blind eye should be turned.

These days I find myself in a different kind of fight, not one against hardened criminals but those of shrewd political actors in the form of Arizona power companies seeking to pickpocket Arizona residents.

Mohave County Sheriff Tom Sheahan

Former Mohave County Sheriff Tom Sheahan

For the past many months I have been helping friends in my old stomping grounds of Mohave County fend off an outrageous new ploy by utilities, in this case UNS, to raise rates via a new ploy called “demand charges.” It’s code for Arizona being the only state in the country where we pay not only for our total power usage, but for the highest hour of usage in the month. The second part of their scam is to wipe out energy choice and the rooftop solar industry with new fees and taxes. They seem to be following the example of Salt River Project which already eviscerated solar choice in its territory, costing hundreds of Arizonans jobs and thousands in solar customer savings.

Hundreds of people who see through the utility’s ploy, primarily seniors, have protested in Kingman. They don’t want to be guinea pigs for rates that no other utility in the country requires.

But the outrage and protests aren’t stopping two other utilities from moving forward with their power grab. Arizona Public Service executives have been writing guest columns in newspapers around the state talking about how much better it is if they control all solar projects rather than allow individuals to put panels on their roof.

APS should be looking out a little more for the public good as a government granted monopoly rather than private greed.

And while I don’t mean to liken the utility to a criminal, its duplicity does remind me of the criminals I once apprehended. They always got upset at law enforcement for figuring out and apprehending their schemes.

In Arizona, entrepreneurs and residents got wise to solar technology and how it can it can cut power bills. The new technology cut into the voracious appetite of utilities for ratepayer dollars. And the utilities hate this. They hate things and people they don’t control.

Just as I have fought crime all my life, I’m going to fight this scheme. Fight with me. Fight with thousands of others enraged Arizonans from Nogales to Phoenix to Lake Havasu City.

Arizona utilities, led by APS, have spent millions of dollars to elect regulators on the Arizona Corporation Commission. The payback for them is now clear: “demand charges” and a continuing assault on solar.

But now it’s our time to demand a few things. Protect the people, not the powerful. Protect solar so we can protect our pocketbooks. And slam the door shut on demand charges. Don’t make us guinea pigs under the guise of “reform.” Demand charges and solar taxes are a return on investment not for the people, but for the utility monopolies.

Tom Sheahan served in law enforcement for 43 years, 17 years as the sheriff of Mohave County until he retired in 2014.

10 comments

  1. I stand with you sir. So does technology. Storage is here and getting exponentially cheaper just like PV solar has and continues to do.

  2. Warren Woodward

    The ACC/APS Revolving Door
    Information & Perspective by Warren Woodward

    Most people who are paying attention are aware that APS is the largest corporate political donor in the state — and that’s not even including the millions in APS’s “alleged” dark money contributions.

    It is widely believed that APS has bought and paid for its regulators at the Arizona Corporation Commission. APS has also made massive donations to the Arizona Attorney General and Governor. Many lesser politicians, both Democrat but mostly Republican, have also been recipients of APS largess. Anyone can go to FollowTheMoney.org to see where the money’s going. Technically the donations are from Pinnacle West, the APS parent company, but in my opinion that’s an insignificant difference. I am sure the people getting the money know who’s buttering their bread and what’s expected.

    APS also peddles influence via its so-called “charitable” donations that also total in the millions. A city council member of one Arizona town told me he doubted any of the other council members would go against APS “because of all they do for the community.”

    So here is something else to consider when pondering why the ACC staff, who are not getting APS money (that we know of, LOL), also seem to be doing the bidding of APS — perhaps it’s so they can get a job with APS after they retire from or quit the ACC.

    Case in point: Former ACC Utilities Division Director Steven Olea retired last year from many years at the ACC. While at the ACC he did a great job doing APS’s bidding on the “smart” meter issue. Olea is now working for APS.

    Former ACC Executive Director Ernest Johnson and Amanda Ho, ACC commissioner Bob Stump’s former policy adviser, both work for APS now.

    APS lawyer Thomas Mumaw used to be Chief Hearing Officer at the ACC until he was asked to resign for being “anti-consumer.” That was back when the ACC had commissioners with integrity who were real regulators looking out for the public.

    So is the prospect of a second career at APS the reason why the current ACC Utilities Director, Thomas Broderick, is in favor of APS’s new rip-off scheme, mandatory demand charges? Did he also push for CenturyLink’s new rip-off “facility relocation fee” to show his bona fides?

    Treat ’em right and there’s another cush job waiting for you on the other side of the revolving door while you collect your “public service” pension at the same time. Is that how it works?

    I am a registered Republican, but I have to say that it seems like too many Arizona Republican officeholders are corrupt cronies and ignoramuses. That often happens when any party is in control for too long.

    If you are as weary as I am of the corrupt Republican establishment, consider helping the campaigns of Democrats Tom Chabin and Bill Mundell who are running for the ACC. Chabin & Mundell are running a “clean elections” campaign. That means they are not taking huge corporate donations. In order to qualify they need several thousand people to give them $5 each. You can do that at their websites. Look for the “Donate a $5 Clean Elections Qualifying Contribution” button and take it from there.

    Tom Chabin: http://www.tomchabin.com/
    Bill Mundell: http://www.billmundell.org/

    I swore off giving politicians money — any money — some time ago, but I made an exception for Chabin & Mundell after hearing them speak at a recent clean elections campaign event. I truly believe they have Arizonans’ best interests at heart and will stand up to APS and the corruption at the ACC.

  3. NASA reports that the world has warmed by 1º Celsius since 1980. The last 10 years have been the hottest on record (with the exception of 1998). The acceleration is so acute that we could be pushing 2º C within the decade. Two degrees Celsius is the temperature-rise threshold that brings on the Ice Ages, global cataclysms, when glaciers moving south force all lifeforms to flee toward the equator — lifeforms that can flee, the rest go extinct — and the oceans disappear, converted into ice and snow. Scrubby old Arizona is a former inland sea that dried up in that fashion.

    So now come the state’s utilities, wanting to kill competition from clean solar and other sustainable sources of energy, thereby permitting the “energy” companies to burn fossil fuels (oil from shale’s the worst, releasing methane a hundred times worse than CO2 as a warming gas) and nuclear (let’s not forget that ticking environmental time bomb) … and the Governor, the Legislature, the Corporations Commission (almost more than anyone), and various other bad actors go along with them, taking us over the heat limit and forcing all of us to commit suicide every time we turn on the A/C or pile into our vehicles (gas or electric, it matters not a bit).

    The sheer evilness of it is enough to make one gag, to be repelled, to wonder why these folks win awards from Chambers of Commerce and good-government associations and so on, while all along they are writing our death warrants. It’s not much consolation to know they and their families will perish too: as far as souls go, theirs died decades ago.

  4. OK, fine. Let’s give the utilities the rate adjustments they are demanding. Then, let’s slap them with the steepest carbon tax in the entire world. Make them pay for dumping megatons of CO2 into the atmosphere contributing massively to global warming here in Arizona. They will soon be begging for customers to install solar on their roofs and sell them the power.

  5. A carbon tax on APS would be passed down to the residential consumer in another rate increase.
    The dark money that finances political campaigns are used to ensure that APS puppet
    Legislators and Corporation Commissioners are elected. We elected Doug Little and Tom Forese
    To the Corporation Commission because they had some crazy slogan about fighting Obama on their
    Campaign posters. Corporation Commissioners do not have anything to do with the President at all but I guess
    APS felt that if they throw that slogan around all over town on campaign posters their boys would
    Get elected. It worked and now APS will be like the fox guarding the hen house. The solar industry will run from the state if this demand rate garbage gets passed.

  6. Enough is enough! This is clearly a move in the interests of the rich ******** who have a monopoly on power and is not in the best of those who live in Arizona.

  7. alan tomalavage

    Ok So the poor folks who have older a/c and fridges are the ones who are really getting the screw. The rich and franchised have high end efficient appliances and will pay less. (HEAD EXPLODING)

  8. Milgram Experiment

    Obama proudly messed up the utilities by mandating energy reduction. Forcing them to use dangerous devices such as smart meters. We have been pushed to use variable speed motors and CFL bulbs that create dirty electricity making people sick. If you only knew what type of negative impact solar inverters have on the grid.

    Just wait till you find the smart meter has been the source of your sleep/health problems. This new rate case will have you paying an extortion fee not to have one (like SRP does now). A true crime in progress committed by a corporation that is only worried about their investors.

  9. The responsible citizens of Arizona that invested in solar panel systems should prosper and be treated like partners by Arizona Utilities to resell or “wheel” that power to states that rely on more costly and outdated generation platforms. God bless Arizona ex-sheriff Tom “demand a few things; Protect the people, not the powerful.” Sheahan for continuing to protect the public by alerting the public to utility schemes of “demand charges” and “solar taxes.” Too many Arizona Utilities are already trying to make a killing off their ratepayers as regulators look the other way instead of guarding the public interest.
    A grateful Thank you to Mr. Tom Sheahan.

    metrowatertucson.com

  10. I AM jenna Hothan. I was A female officer brutally beaten by inmate and Tom sheahan Cover up the crime.
    They never called me an ambulance….they refused to give me workers comp.
    I was left to die…so they could safe money on monthly exPenses……

    3 of us were beaten without a voice.
    Thank you…..

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