Electric Co-op Leaders Learn About Legislative and Regulatory Issues at the State Capitol

AzGT and other co-op stakeholders must compete for attention with “hot button” issues

For Immediate Release
February 7, 2022

Contacts: Geoff Oldfather, (520) 586-5465, C: (520) 444-3473, goldfather@azgt.coop
J.D. Wallace, (520) 586-5157, C: (520) 235-4203, jdwallace@azgt.coop

BENSON – Electric cooperative leaders met in Phoenix in January for the winter meeting of the Grand Canyon State Electric Cooperative Association (GCSECA), held annually at the start of the Arizona legislative session. Participants learned about regulatory and legislative issues that co-ops face. This year, a host of “hot button” issues—election law reform being just one—mean that co-ops are competing for lawmakers’ attention more than ever.

State Representative Regina CobbState Rep. Regina Cobb (R-Bullhead City/Kingman) was the opening speaker at the meeting, attended by electric co-op CEOs, general managers, member-elected board members and other stakeholders. She said gaining the attention of lawmakers on both sides of the aisle will be a challenge.

“The election is going take our focus away again,” Cobb said. “Election law is important and if there are things we have wrong let’s get it right, but let’s not hyper focus on these issues and that’s what’s happening now.”

During the meeting, electric co-op representatives met one-on-one with legislators to educate them about issues that concern co-ops.

GCSECA CEO Dave Lock said the co-ops are well positioned in spite of a full legislative calendar. “We have excellent relationships with legislators like State Rep. Gail Griffin (R-Hereford) and State Sen. Sine Kerr (R-Buckeye), who chair committees for the bills we’re interested in,” he said. “We constantly cultivate relationships on both sides of the aisle.”

The “double assessment” issue is one concern. The Arizona Corporation Commission, which regulates utilities, is funded through assessments placed on regulated entities. AzGT is assessed based on revenues from the sale of wholesale electricity to electric distribution co-ops. The distribution co-ops are also assessed based on the revenue they collect from their retail consumer/members.

“By the time those electrons get to residents in Bullhead City, or the small business in Pima, or any other member, they will have been assessed two different times for the same electrons,” said Casey Ratlief, director of government relations and grassroots advocacy for GCSECA.

Another bill would eliminate outdated retail competition statutes enacted more than 20 years ago.

Lock said he’s optimistic that bills dealing with both issues will be passed and signed into law, because legislators recognize that electric cooperatives are member-owned, self-governed and not-for-profit organizations serving some of the most economically challenged areas of the state.

About Arizona G&T Cooperatives

Arizona Electric Power Cooperative (AEPCO) and Sierra Southwest (Sierra) together comprise the Arizona G&T Cooperatives (www.azgt.coop). AEPCO owns and operates the 625-megawatt (combined gross) Apache Generating Station, located at Cochise, east of Benson. AEPCO also owns, operates and maintains 866 miles of electric power transmission line—including line owned in part with other utilities—and 36 substations to provide wholesale electric power from Apache to six Member distribution cooperatives in southern Arizona, western New Mexico, northwestern Arizona and California.

Sierra is the vehicle to develop new ways to serve the renewable energy needs of AzGT Member cooperatives and customers, and helps maximize solar and other renewable tax credits. Sierra has initiated two utility-scale solar projects. AEPCO’s 20 MW Apache Solar project is located on AEPCO property adjacent to and northeast of Apache Generating Station. The second project includes SunAnza Phase I, a 2 MW solar array, as well as SunAnza Phase II, which includes an additional 1.4 MW solar array and a battery storage system, all on property owned by Anza Electric Cooperative adjacent to its headquarters in Anza, California.

Combined, the distribution cooperatives that receive AEPCO’s wholesale power serve more than 161,000 meters representing more than 420,000 individual residential, commercial, agricultural, and industrial member/consumers.

The Class A Member cooperatives that receive wholesale power from AEPCO include Duncan Valley Electric Cooperative, Duncan; Graham County Electric Cooperative, Pima; Mohave Electric Cooperative, Bullhead City; Sulphur Springs Valley Electric Cooperative, Willcox; Trico Electric Cooperative, Marana; and a California member, Anza Electric Cooperative, Anza.

These Member cooperatives own AzGT and, by extension, AzGT’s Member distribution cooperatives are owned by their members—the people at the end of the line who use the power.

AEPCO also serves five Class D energy services Members which are scheduling and trading customers and which include the Central Arizona Water Conservation District, Phoenix, AZ; Lincoln County Power District #1, Pioche, NV; Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA; Southwest Public Power Agency, Maricopa, AZ; and Valley Electric Association, Pahrump, NV.

AEPCO is also a Member/owner of ACES, a nationwide energy management company that helps its Members and customers buy, sell, and manage energy more efficiently and with less risk. The AEPCO/AzGT Benson campus hosts the ACES West Regional Trading Center (WRTC), which benefits AEPCO/AzGT Members and customers.