PHOENIX – Determined to protect her constituents from new state policies that punish rural property owners, State Senator Sylvia Allen (R-Snowflake) is sponsoring legislation to roll back a 2007 Corporation Commission decision allowing public utilities to charge rural residents the full cost of electricity line extensions. If enacted, the legislation would require APS to reinstate its former policy, granting rural residents free line extensions under 500 feet.
“As a lifelong resident of rural Arizona, I am angry that the Arizona Corporation Commission, virtually in the dead of night, changed energy policy in Arizona and mandated APS to charge rural residents for line extensions,” Allen said. “This decision exponentially increased the cost of rural utility hook-ups, dramatically increased the cost of development in rural Arizona, and depressed property values. It must be reversed.”
Allen’s legislation, Senate Bill 1198, would essentially restore the former policy of free line extensions that had been in effect since 1954 – a policy established by utility companies to build their customer base. The change in that decades-old policy of bringing electric lines to a home or business at no charge to customers (considered a cost of doing business for the utilities) now costs customers as much as $20,000 to $30,000.
Allen’s efforts are supported by a number of rural interests, including the Navajo County Board of Supervisors and the White Mountain Realtors. In testimony before the Senate Natural Resources Committee, Navajo County Supervisor David Tenney expressed the County’s support for Allen’s legislation. “When the Corporation Commission allowed utilities to end this policy, they sent a clear signal that rural Arizona simply doesn’t matter in state policymaking. This policy has contributed to the virtual collapse of growth in Navajo County and should be reversed. We support Senator Allen’s legislation.”
White Mountain Realtor Joel Lawson also expressed his support for Allen’s bill. “As a realtor, I have seen the impact of this policy on rural Arizona. Senator Allen’s legislation would be an important first step towards restoring rural Arizona’s ability to grow and recover from the economic recession.”
Senator Allen acknowledged the support her legislation has received. “Rural Arizonans deserve fair treatment from state policymakers and utilities, not a slap in the face. This bill would reverse a very bad decision and help put rural Arizona back on its feet.”
Allen’s bill was passed by the Senate Natural Resources Committee on a 5 – 1 vote and is currently awaiting consideration by the Senate Rules Committee.