I have always supported Tom Forese, even if I have not always agreed with him. As a state lawmaker Tom Forese was a champion of free markets, where he advocated for deregulation that enabled ride-sharing companies such as Uber and Lyft to compete in our economy.
I was disappointed, however, to see Mr. Forese stray from conservative principles during his time at the Arizona Corporation Commission. Through a number of votes, Mr. Forese sought to limit the growth of rooftop solar in Arizona, creating obstacles for homeowner energy independence, stifling open market competition, and restricting innovation and economic growth.
Now, Mr. Forese has a chance to re-establish himself as a champion of open market competition and economic growth in Arizona by rejecting the current rate hike request from Tucson Electric Power. TEP is currently seeking to eliminate rooftop solar by scaling back net metering and imposing fees on solar homeowners that amounts to a tax on the sun.
While some of Mr. Forese’s past votes at the Corporation Commission created setbacks for the growth of rooftop solar, Arizona Public Service and the rooftop solar industry were able to reach a compromise. While not perfect, the deal preserves rooftop solar as a viable option for homeowners, allowing ratepayers to exercise energy choice in a free market setting. TEP’s request is well outside the bounds of the solar settlement APS made with the rooftop solar industry and it ignores the Value of Solar Study adopted by the Corporation Commission.
Because of Mr. Forese’s historical commitment to consumer choice and free market, I was proud to add my name to the list of Republicans who endorsed him for Corporation Commissioner. Now, as Mr. Forese runs for state treasurer, I remain hopeful that he will finish his term on the Corporation Commission by returning to his free market roots.
Tom Forese has an opportunity to reject the job killing, anti-competition request from TEP, and demonstrate that he does indeed stand for energy choice and independence. He can demand that TEP learn to compete on a fair playing field that ensures the viability of a utility and its solar competitors.
Without Tom’s leadership, innovative industries such as ride sharing may have taken a backseat in Arizona. I respectfully encourage my friend Tom Forese to stand up for conservative principles as he concludes his term in the Corporation Commission. It’s time to reject the TEP request and keep energy consumers in the driver’s seat.
The views expressed in guest commentaries are those of the author and are not the views of the Arizona Capitol Times.