EPCOR files new rate case

On June 15, 2020, EPCOR Water Arizona filed an application with the Arizona Corporation Commission (AzCC) for new water rates, to be effective no later than Aug. 15, 2021.

In Jan. 25, 2019, the Commission could not reach a resolution on the previous case, wherein EPCOR filed for statewide consolidation of the 11 EPCOR districts. As a result of the 2-2 deadlocked vote, the Commission implemented interim rates based on pre-2019 rates (plus a volumetric surcharge). At that time, the Commission also required EPCOR to file a new case no later than May 1, 2020 (a 45-day extension to June 15 was granted due to COVID-19) that would include “geographically adjacent or regional basis rate consolidation options, including cost of service studies for each geographically adjacent or regional district.”

The current case filing includes one standalone and four consolidation scenarios. All four consolidation options (three regional and one statewide) would result in substantial decreases to Anthem rates (as well as a refund of the difference from interim rates), whereas the standalone option would result in a considerable increase. These scenarios, and the full impact to Anthem ratepayers, can be found in more detail in the Aug. 26 Open Session Board Packet.

Next steps
At its June public meeting, the ACC Board of Directors named Board Vice President Bob McKenzie and Director of Communications & Pubic Affairs Kristi Northcutt as interveners in the case. The Board also reinstated the Utilities Panel, a committee comprised of Anthem residents who serve in an advisory role to the interveners and legal counsel.

In its 2020 budget, the ACC Board authorized staff to retain legal counsel for the case, if necessary. At its August meeting, the Board authorized the CEO to execute a contract for legal counsel. On Sept. 9, water attorney Clyde Halstead (Carpenter, Hazlewood, Bolen & Delgado) filed a notice with the AzCC to represent Anthem in the case.

The ACC staff has requested additional funding in the 2021 budget, since the case will cross into the next fiscal year. The final draft budget will be presented to the Board at the Sept. 26 open session, and the Board is expected to vote on the budget at its October open meeting.