2022 Arizona Corporation Commission Primary Candidate: Nick Myers

Nick Myers is running for the Arizona Corporation Commission because he says he can make a difference to how major state utilities work, something he learned first hand during a dispute with the famous water company Johnson Utilities.

Myers is one of three Republicans on the ballot in this year’s primary election competing for two seats on the five-member commission. The Corporation Commission is an office created by the Arizona Constitution that oversees utility rates, securities regulation, pipeline safety, and railroad crossings.

Myers fought with Johnson Utilities for access to a water tap used by hundreds of customers to transport water to their rural properties.

“He got away with abusing taxpayers for 20 years,” Myers said of company owner George Johnson.

Johnson cut off access to the faucet, called a riser, for Myers and all of his customers. Johnson would only allow a water-carrying company run by his family to access it, forcing customers to pay that company for water. After Myers and others challenged the public service, the Corporation Commission demanded that it be reopened.

Johnson Utilities finally sold after the Corporation Commission and the Department of Environmental Quality argued with the company for years over sewer spills, service issues, poor water quality and water issues. maintenance in its facilities.

After winning that hydrant battle, Myers lost a bid for the Arizona Legislative Assembly in 2018. Myers campaigned in 2020 for the commission but did not qualify for the ballot. Meanwhile, Commissioner Justin Olson’s political adviser left because she was elected to the Legislative Assembly, and Olson hired Myers to replace her.

Since then, Myers has been helping Olson and getting a close view of the office.

Who is a candidate for the Corporation Commission? These are the candidates on the ballot

Myers has a background in technology

Myers is from Kansas and graduated from the University of Kansas. He worked as a software engineer for about 18 years, including for Intel and satellite communications companies, he said.

Then he quit corporate jobs and started a variety of small businesses, from running a train service for children’s parties to hauling water for rural residents. He has run a dog boarding business with his wife for six years and worked as a political adviser for Olson for about a year and a half. He and his wife have three children.

He said he shows up, even if the job doesn’t pay as well as small business, because he thinks after picking up a small win over Johnson Utilities he has the skills to make a change on the commission. .

“Call it a civic duty,” he said. “Sometimes you just get a call and you can’t mount it because you’d feel like shit if you did.”

He says that although his initial interest in the commission came from his experience as a client of Johnson Utilities, he sees a variety of issues he would like to address on the commission.

“There has to be someone who is there for the right reasons,” he said.

Although he has no experience in public service, few commissioners have that experience when initially elected. And he said his work as a political adviser prepared him for the job of commissioner.

He participated in the “pricing school” through the National Association of Regulatory Services Commissioners when he accepted the position of policy adviser to Olson. This is an annual crash course for new regulators and staff to understand accounting concepts unique to the world of utilities.

No support for renewable mandates

Myers said he would prefer to repeal the existing renewable energy standard that the commission adopted in 2006. But he said it was unlikely the commission could effectively eliminate that mandate.

“Current mandates have the effect of forcing technology down the throats of utilities before it’s ready,” he said, citing recent fires at battery storage facilities as an example.

He said standards can also force utilities into contracts with emerging technologies for decades, when cheaper electricity would likely become available before those contracts expire. The commission discussed such a contract with a massive solar plant outside Gila Bend.

Before voting:What’s on your August 2022 primary ballot for Arizona?

“Do I think climate change is real? Yeah, absolutely,” he said. “I think we might not agree on how we got here, what caused it, and what’s actually going to clean it up. Do I think the cost should be borne by private utility taxpayers? Not necessarily.”

He said utilities contribute to greenhouse gases, but they are not the only contributors.

Even though the Arizona legislature recently repealed parts of the state law that allow companies to compete with large electric companies for customers, Myers said he still supports so-called competition at the detail.

“I suspect this problem is not dead,” he said.

The commissioners recently voted to cut the profitability of Arizona Public Service Co., the largest company they regulate. Among the reasons given was poor customer service. Myers said the decision resonated with him because of his own experiences with poor customer service from a utility.

“Do I like that we used the hammer we have to force a problem? Absolutely. Do I like that all of Arizona’s utilities were downgraded because of No. It also impacts taxpayers,” he said of the APS ruling.

But on the other hand, he said, commissioners sometimes have to put the brakes on public services.

“You can’t just allow utilities to get away with murder,” he said.

Ethical rules fear going too far

Myers acknowledges that the commission has faced ethical controversies in recent years.

To address these issues, the commission adopted a code of ethics. But Myers also worries that some of the ideas proposed for the commission’s code of ethics could go too far and create their own problems and prevent regulators from doing their job.

For example, he said, if commissioners were to recuse themselves from voting on issues involving people who donated $5 to their campaign to help them qualify for clean election funding, the commissioners may have to recuse themselves from a host of issues.

He said utilities acting in bad faith could “weaponize” such a rule by asking workers to donate $5 to a candidate’s campaign and later forcing that commissioner to recuse himself from a vote on that issue. public service.

Myers described the “hunt” for a Republican running mate before recruiting Mesa City Councilman Kevin Thompson to team up with for this year’s race. There are two seats available on the commission this year, with Olson opting to run for the US Senate and Democrat Sandra Kennedy’s term ending, forcing her to run for re-election.

Contact Reporter Ryan Randazzo at Ryan.Randazzo@arizonarepublic.com or 602-444-4331. Follow him on Twitter @UtilityReporter.

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Luisa D. Fuller