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Severely understaffed Corporation Commission needs Legislature’s help

Members of the Arizona Corporation Commission from left: Lea Márquez Peterson, Boyd Dunn, Bob Burns, Justin Olson, Sandra Kennedy

Members of the Arizona Corporation Commission (from left): Lea Márquez Peterson, Boyd Dunn, Bob Burns, Justin Olson, Sandra Kennedy

The Arizona Corporation Commission is severely understaffed and is in serious need of assistance from the Legislature and Governor’s office to increase the ACC’s assessments (within currently approved statutory levels) to support manpower increases needed to match the ACC’s significantly increasing work load.

Two of ACC’s divisions are first stops in the startup and/or expansions of new and existing business operations in Arizona.

The ACC’s Corporations Division is the first link in the economic development chain for businesses wishing to incorporate, either as a new start up business or changing their current business registration to a Corporation. This division has a manpower shortage of 14 FTE’s (23%).

The ACC’s Utilities Division is the first stop for monopoly utility service companies to establish their service territories by acquiring a certificate of convenience and necessity (“CC&N”) that is required to serve all commercial, industrial and residential developments in Arizona.  Review and approval of these numerous CC&Ns is complex and time-consuming. This division has a manpower shortage of 19 FTE’s (26%).

Bob Burns (Photo by Howard Fischer, Capitol Media Services)

Bob Burns (Photo by Howard Fischer, Capitol Media Services)

Funding for these two divisions comes from fees for incorporating and assessments on the regulated utilities, not from the state’s general fund. However, the ACC cannot increase these fees or assessments without the Legislature’s and Governor’s approval. Without this legislative authorization, the ACC will not have the funds needed to support the staffing levels necessary for ACC to continue to provide its critical support of Arizona’s growing economy, while at the same time protecting Arizona’s ratepayers and taxpayers.

The Arizona Corporation Commission’s (“ACC”) primary responsibilities are to ensure safe, reliable and affordable utility services, serve Arizona’s entrepreneurs in their entry and participation in Arizona’s economy and its continued growth, and protect Arizonans from unscrupulous securities practices.

With the ACC being a critical link in the supply chain required to support existing and new businesses, the smooth and efficient operation of the ACC is vitally important.

The Utilities Division is also responsible for processing rate cases for monopoly utility service companies. Currently, every major monopoly utility in Arizona has either filed or will shortly be filing a rate case. These filings require a full financial audit to determine the cost of doing business in order to establish the proper rate for cost recovery from the rate payers. These are complex, time consuming cases that require highly qualified financial, engineering and legal experts to protect the ratepayer.

In addition, new companies to Arizona, like Nikola Motor Co. and others, will need significant levels of power, water and wastewater utility service, requiring interconnections to the grid, possibly additional substations and transmission lines, and water line extensions permitted and approved by the ACC (another function of the ACC utility division).

ACC manpower shortages could create unnecessary and very costly delays in processing times.

Bob Burns is chairman of the Arizona Corporation Commission. He is a former legislator.

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