Anthem residents encouraged to speak out for consolidation

Date Modified: Thu, 02/09/2017 - 4:33pm
The Anthem Community Council executive leadership and Board of Directors is asking Anthem residents on the east side of I-17 (EPCOR rate payers) to take a few minutes to write a letter/email to the Arizona Corporation Commission, appealing to them to support total consolidation of the five wastewater districts. Attendance at the upcoming public hearing is also strongly encouraged.
 
Commissioners heard public comment on Jan. 23, at the Corporation Commission office in Hearing Room 2 (H.R. #2, address below). More than 50 people from Sun City and Sun City West were in attendance to speak out against consolidation. 
 
Another public comment session is scheduled for Feb. 13, with the evidentiary hearing scheduled to start Feb. 15. Please continue to check back for the latest information/schedule. Your attendance and public comment is encouraged. For those unable to attend, you have the option to be part of a video to present to the Commission. For details about times and locations to appear on camera with your position, contact Marcus Petty, ACC Communications Specialist, or call 623-742-4554.
 
After much research and testimony, Anthem's interveners in the case - CEO Jenna Kohl and Utilities Panel Chairman Roger Willis - feel that consolidation is the best outcome for Anthem residents. Consolidation of the districts could result in a three-step (three-year) phased-in decrease in rates for Anthem ratepayers.
 
Below, please find “talking points” for comments and/or an email/letter, as well as instructions for filing a written response. Representatives from EPCOR have advised that “original letters” command more attention from the Commissioners than “form letters” do. Therefore, these points are provided only to help guide you. Please keep your letters brief and to the point.
 
There has been a strong outpouring of support AGAINST consolidation from Sun City and Sun City West. On the flipside, the other districts are submitting letters/emails FOR consolidation. 
 
Key reasons why the Anthem Community Council favors consolidation of all five wastewater districts:
  • It would result in decreased rates for Anthem rate payers. We are currently paying nearly $40 more per month than Sun City. After the final consolidation phase-in steps, all districts would be paying equally (currently estimated at $41 per month) for the same service.
  • It would result in sharing of future infrastructure costs across all districts and reduce the rate impact of infrastructure improvements on individual districts. 
  • Consolidation of districts is the “norm” in public utilities (telecom, electric, gas, etc.). In municipalities, such as Phoenix, customers pay a uniform rate regardless of location. 
  • Consolidation isn’t controversial or new; we receive the same service, under the same conditions, from the same provider. 
  • Discrimination in rates by location for “a like and contemporaneous service” is prohibited by Article XV, Paragraph 12 of the Arizona Constitution.   
  • In no cases that we have found are district-wide rates based on income or demographics, as Sun City and Sun City West contend.  
  • If we are completely deconsolidated, we would pay a different Rate of Return than other districts; with consolidation, we would all pay the same Rate of Return. We should all be paying the same, market-appropriate rate.
  • $41 is comparable to the area average ($49) for wastewater; Anthem, Agua Fria and Mohave are all WELL above that now. Sun City and Sun City West are well below. Evening out the rates so that all are at $41 is the only fair resolution.
A question that some have raised is that Anthem strongly supported deconsolidation in the 2014 rate case, so why do we now strongly support full consolidation? We took that position in 2014 for two reasons: The formation of the consolidated Anthem/Agua Fria district was arbitrary based on actions by the Commission in the early 2000’s; and consolidating Anthem and Agua Fria while leaving all other districts within EPCOR as standalone was inconsistent and unfair.
 
In this case, EPCOR proposes consolidating all five districts, which eliminates these two issues and we therefore support this proposal. Learn more about this case, previous cases and the hearing schedule.
 
To submit via standard mail: Reference Docket #WS-01303A-16-0145 to the attention of:
Arizona Corporation Commission
Consumer Services Division
1200 W. Washington St.
Phoenix, AZ 85007
 
Reference Docket #WS-01303A-16-0145
For “Company," select: EPCOR Water *AAWC
For position, select “FOR” (For Consolidation)
If you need assistance, please contact the Consumer Services Section at 602-542-4251 or 1-800-222-7000