Thursday, November 13, 2008

Goldwater Institute Challenges Corporation Commission Rules


Phoenix--The Goldwater Institute Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation today filed a special action in the Arizona Court of Appeals challenging the Arizona Corporation Commission's Renewable Energy Standard and Tariff Rules and the accompanying initial rate surcharges.

The rules lock in energy policy for most of the next two decades, forcing utility companies to provide specific percentages of power from renewable resources regardless of cost or reliability. The Commission estimates that over the life of the rules, the energy will cost $2.4 billion more than conventional energy sources. The first surcharges to utility bills were approved this year.

The Goldwater Institute represents three residential utility customers, Roy Miller, Thomas F. Husband, and Jennifer Bryson, along with Corpus Communications, Inc. The lawsuit alleges that the Corporation Commission exceeded its limited constitutional authority, which is limited to ratemaking. The Legislature, which has taken numerous steps to promote renewable energy, has authority over energy policy.

"This massive power grab will cost Arizona consumers billions of dollars at a time when we cannot afford it," declared Clint Bolick, Goldwater Institute's litigation director.

The Institute filed the action in the Court of Appeals because the case presents urgent legal issues and there are no disputed facts. Previously, the Arizona Supreme Court declined to exercise special-action jurisdiction.

"This lawsuit could not be more important to the real lives of Arizonans, so we hope this court will accept jurisdiction to resolve the issue as quickly as possible," Bolick stated.

The Court of Appeals will decide whether to take the case by December 2. The Court also ordered the Arizona Corporation Commission to respond to the brief by November 24.

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The Goldwater Institute is a nonprofit public policy research and litigation organization whose work is made possible by the generosity of its supporters.

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