Acc Is There To Ensure Reliable Utility Service

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Editor:

The Arizona Corporation Commission is concerned about the state's current drought and its effect on several state water companies. Some specific information included in a letter from Pam Milhon of Christopher Creek Haven Water Company to the editor of the Roundup requires clarification.

Ms. Milhon's letter indicates that the water company has not received a rate increase since 1994. What isn't stated is that it is incumbent upon the utility to monitor its financial situation and apply for a rate increase when it deems an increase is warranted.

Rate cases must be requested by the company before the Commission can begin its thorough examination of the merits of a utility's application. The company's only rate request since 1994 is the one filed by Mr. Lendzion on June 20, 2002, barely a month ago, and we are working on it.

The letter mentions the need for a loan necessary to plan certain improvements to the system. The company has not filed an application for financing approval, even though our Utilities Division encouraged the company to do so. Submitting an application for financing approval along with the rate case submittal would save the company time.

The letter also references conversations that Mr. Lendzion had with our staff. Our staff did not refuse to grant an emergency review of the rate case, nor did Mr. Fox refuse to offer his assistance. Contrary to the account relayed in the letter, on Monday, July 8, Mr. Lendzion arrived at the Commission unannounced. He requested a meeting with Mr. Lawrence, the analyst assigned to the rate case. Mr. Lawrence was on vacation so Mr. Fox, from the same department, met with him instead.

Government agencies are not always viewed in the best light and our processes, many of which are dictated by statutes and rules, can be cumbersome at times. Having said that, I can assure you that our employees are conscientious and eager to assist the utilities we regulate. Most importantly, we are here to ensure that Arizona residents receive reliable utility service at a fair price. That is our focus each time we evaluate the merits of a pending rate case.

Finally, utility customers should know that under the Arizona Constitution, the Commission cannot simply "rubber stamp" a rate case because an owner or manager says he needs more money. Arizona utility customers deserve our careful review before we saddle them with any additional costs.

Heather Murphy, Public Information Officer, Arizona Corporation Commission

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