By Brian Lee| Energy Markets Podcast
Court Rich, an attorney representing solar developers and others before the Arizona Corporation Commission, recounts how the state’s 20-year-old law promoting retail competition in electricity was thwarted for years by the state’s utilities and then, recently, ultimately repealed after an army of more than a hundred lobbyists descended on the Legislature. The bill, through some sleight-of-hand rewriting of the governing statute, was then touted by the utilities as being a consumer-protection law, in what he calls an exercise of “pure political power from the monopolies.”
Interestingly, he says public exposure of Dark Money groups and the utilities’ influence at the Corporation Commission has actually led to a diminution of the industry’s clout with individual state regulators. That has “handcuffed them a little bit,” Rich says. But the recent legislative battle, in which lawmakers ordinarily supportive of those in a diverse coalition opposing the bill changed their votes in the face of intense lobbying from utilities, shows utilities’ influence with lawmakers, while somewhat diminished, was still ultimately effective.