Barry Goldwater Jr. Issues Open Letter to Arizona Corporation Commission

Tell Utilities Solar Won't Be Killed


Commissioner Gary Pierce
Arizona Corporation Commission
Commissioners Wing
1200 W. Washington – 2nd Floor
Phoenix, Arizona 85007


Docket No. E-01345A-12-0290

Dear Honorable Arizona Corporation Commissioners:

As you are well aware Arizona Public Service (APS) has launched a hostile attack on rooftop solar, a customer choice driven alternative to its monopoly.  They claim to like solar but it’s clear they only like what solar they own. Their fear of the future and the increased adoption rate of independent solar is cited for acute concern in their Wall Street filings, a clearer indication of their real feelings and true motivations.

But thanks to your leadership energy choice via a thriving rooftop solar market in Arizona is one of the country’s great success stories.  Your “more rooftop solar for less ratepayer money” policy has worked to date, driving down prices and increasing adoption for residential solar consumers. Now, APS is asking you to be the first governing body in the country to reverse the net metering policy that is law in 43 states.  It would be the most anti-solar move in the country for what has been the most opportunistic of solar states.

APS continually echoes that net metering is a subsidy.  It is not and will be proven as much.  However, since they raise the issue of subsidies, they introduce the notion that any decision on net metering prior to a more comprehensive review of all APS subsidies, would be premature.  I certainly believe this to be the case.  Consequently, we ask that you formally undertake such an analysis, prior to the any decision on net metering, in order to convey to the public what the true impacts to Arizona ratepayers are. And, in addition to their monopoly status how APS’ subsidies grant an unfair competitive advantage to energy choices like ours.

At every step from the beginning to the end of the electrical generation cycle, incentives in the form of preferential treatment are applied such as subsidies, price support, tax treatment, accelerated depreciation, and capitol recovery.

While the Corporation Commission does not control and did not create all of these subsidies, its constituents, the utility ratepayers, pay for all of them whether it be through their electric bills or state or federal taxes.  As a result, their impacts on those you represent are real, must be understood, and cannot, despite APS’ wishes, be ignored.

Why would the Commission take action on one alleged “subsidy” without understanding the impact of all subsidies on Arizona ratepayers?

Such an analysis should include but not be limited to:

  • The Price Anderson Act:  This subsidy allows APS to own, operate and profit from one of the largest nuclear plants in the country while Arizona and American taxpayers are on the hook to write a blank check should any accident take place.  APS has benefited from this subsidy ever since Palo Verde shipped its first electron, about 25 years ago.
  • What about the tax credits APS receives on its nuclear decommissioning trusts?  Across the country that subsidy alone costs Arizona and American taxpayers more than $1 billion each year.  This is literally a tax break to cover the costs to close down a power plant.
  • When it comes to coal what about the percentage depletion tax break which is a tax credit for depleting natural resources.  This costs Arizona and American taxpayers another $1 billion per year.
  • What about the burden placed upon small businesses in APS service territory to disproportionately absorb costs associated with electric service to keep rates lower for others?  Should our small businesses be paying much more than their fair share so that APS can show returns for its shareholders?  We must understand the true costs to our small businesses of this massive subsidization.
  • Subsidies for transmission line extensions to serve new development:  APS previously advocated in favor of a policy that provides line extensions to new development at no cost to the developer of the property.  These costs are instead shifted onto all ratepayers so that APS can more easily add new customers and more money to its bottom line.  Now that growth has accelerated it is imperative that we understand the costs of this subsidy.
  • Protected monopoly status: Of course, the biggest subsidy to APS is its protected monopoly status.  This is a subsidy of the highest order as the government literally forbids competition with this utility.  The appropriate type of measured competition will undoubtedly be good for ratepayers yet APS seeks to crush even the smallest notion of customer choice.  Before taking away all customer choice at APS’ behest, it is essential that the Commission calculate the costs to APS customers associated with continuing a system devoid of competition.

These are just a few examples.  APS’ premise seems to be that APS and her shareholders should continue to receive subsidies for dirty and dangerous power sources while solar choice should be punished such that APS should make even more money when its customers choose to buy a different product?  APS is standing on stilts and calling the solar industry short.

Because of their audacity – and abuse of its monopolistic privilege in trying to squash a disruptive technology like solar – it is imperative that the Arizona Corporation Commission not only say no to their outrageous requests but entertain new ones like even more competition, because of them.

Very clearly, APS intends to try and convince you to defeat any competitor and any threat just as typewriters once lamented computers.  In APS’ world no disruptive technology should ever be allowed because it would be bad for them.

But like school choice and healthcare choice the tide of freedom and innovation should be our yardstick.  It should not and must not be the job of this Commission to be more concerned with APS’ assured profits than accelerating the kind of competition that is best for consumers and our state’s future.

In other words, just as Republicans have looked for ways to end the public school monopoly because it has hindered innovation and achievement, so too should you look for more ways to end APS’ monopoly now.

I sincerely appreciate your service, having been in that arena myself, once upon a time.

APS’ recent actions remind us of the opportunity you now have:  To say no to their requests and maintain a robust solar market in Arizona.  To say yes to a thorough analysis of their extraordinary incentives and tax breaks so we may best understand the debate now before us.  And to say yes to new ways to wean ourselves off the monopoly.

Republicans are at our best when we are pushing for more innovation and competition that inevitably benefits the taxpayers, as opposed to doing the bidding of companies most concerned about their bottom line, not Arizona’s.

The Best Always,

Barry Goldwater, Jr.
Chairman, T.U.S.K.

Shining Some Sunlight on the Politics of Power in Arizona

Recently, I couldn’t help but notice a shared post on Facebook by Arizona Corporation Commissioner; Gary Pierce. Commissioner Pierce publicly gave kudos to one of Sonoran Alliance’s contributing writers, Richard Brinkley, over a column in which Brinkley took Barber to task over Barber’s criticism of the ACC.

Sonoran Alliance oftentimes provides commentary shedding light on the various intersections within the Republican Party.  We react and we forecast.  And we connect dots to inform.

In this post I’d like to expound on Brinkley’s column but also offer some clarity on what free market Republicans should do to remain politically and intellectually honest.

Republican Arizona Corporation Commissioner Gary Pierce is a good man.  But lately behind the scenes, he appears to be doing the bidding not of ratepayers, but of APS.

Last Thursday’s “atta boy” on Facebook to an online criticism of Congressman Barber’s own critique that the Corporation Commission has moved and is continuing to move to kill the solar industry in Arizona, needs some ideological clarification and even correction.

While I am not in the habit of indirectly applauding messages by Democrats like Ron Barber, Republicans, especially Gary Pierce need to think long and hard about entering corporate cronyism arrangements with monopolistic utility providers like Arizona Public Service.

APS essentially wants to erect barriers to entry and even kill competing solar providers because a flourishing solar industry threatens their position in the market resulting in less control and business for them.

So how can Republicans like Commissioner Pierce argue that the public education monopoly deserves competition via charter schools and school choice but monopolistic utilities like APS should face no competition?

The hypocrisy is Republican policymakers wax eloquently about the evils of subsidizing solar energy but shrink from criticism when confronted about massively subsidizing corporate monopolies like APS. It’s time for Republicans to be intellectually consistent and reject corporate welfare policies altogether.

This brings me to my free market point of clarity. All indications are that over the next year, APS will be working behind the scenes with the Corporation Commission to kill net metering.

What is net metering?

In brief, net metering is the policy of 43 states to allow residential solar customers to sell excess power back to the grid.  It is a sound policy requiring APS to buy this power just as we consumers are limited when we buy power from the government-sanctioned utility companies.

Eliminating net metering would kill the flourishing residential solar market here in Arizona thereby eliminating consumer choice for Arizona energy consumers.  Does Commissioner Gary Pierce really want to take credit for this – eliminating consumer choices – especially in Arizona where sunshine is as much a commodity as oil is in the Middle East?

Over the next year hopefully Commissioner Pierce will realize this is not just bad public policy, it rejects free market core principles that are inherent to the Republican Party.  Competition is good for schools, health care and energy.  Solar energy is an important part of that.  Those businesses are getting off incentives while utilities are not.

We can hope that our GOP returns to taxpayer-friendly, competition-based public policy as we re-engage the citizenry with consistent messaging that will resonate more powerfully in the future. Let’s face it, hugging the 800 pound utility gorilla is bad public policy and bad politics.

Shane Wikfors is the creator and editor of Sonoran Alliance and a longtime Arizona conservative Republican activist. He has been a consultant for and is an advocate of non-subsidized, consumer-based, taxpayer-friendly energy diversity and sustainability.

Chairman Gary Pierce of the Arizona Corporation Commission Endorses Robert Graham for Chairman of the Arizona Republican Party

Robert Graham

“Robert Graham is the man who can bring PC’s, state committeemen, money, and voters together.” 

PHOENIX — Today, Gary Pierce, Chairman of the Arizona Corporation Commission, endorsed Robert Graham for chairman of the Arizona Republican Party. Commissioner Pierce, who lives in Legislative District 25, is serving his second term on the Corporation Commission, where he has consistently led the fight for the principles of the conservative platform.

“I have known Robert Graham for many years,” said Pierce, “and he has always been a true conservative warrior. Under Robert’s guidance, I fully expect the Arizona Republican Party to become a united, well-funded party. We have the tools to sustain Republican success for decades, now we need a leader. Robert Graham is the man who can bring PC’s, state committeemen, money, and voters together to enjoy many Republican victories for years to come.”

“Gary Pierce is a well-respected Arizona Republican,” said Graham. “I am excited to have his endorsement, and I look forward to working with him to help ensure future GOP success. Arizona is fortunate to have a man of Gary’s caliber furthering the conservative cause.”

To learn more about Robert Graham and his plan for Arizona’s Republican Party, please visit his website at or his Facebook page.



Gary Pierce Statement on Arizona’s 9th Congressional District


In 2010, I was honored to have the voters of Arizona elect me to a second four-year term on the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC). I currently serve as chairman of the ACC and am scheduled to complete my chairmanship at the end of this year.

Over the past few months I have been monitoring the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission as it drew new congressional districts. During that time, it has been widely reported that I might run for Congress in one of the districts. An overwhelming number of people from throughout the state have encouraged me to run for a congressional seat. After careful consideration, I have concluded that Republicans will have outstanding candidates in each of the congressional districts for the 2012 election cycle. In light of the fact that there are several critical issues before the Corporation Commission, I believe that I can best represent the people of Arizona by continuing to serve as Chairman of the Corporation Commission.

Consequently, I will not be a candidate for Congress in 2012. I do not rule out a run for Congress or another state-wide office in the future.


Update on Arizona’s 9th Congressional District

It’s been awhile since I’ve written some original content so I’m gonna throw a quick overview on Arizona’s CD-9 – the crescent-shaped district located in Phoenix.

So who’s in?

On the Democrat side, Kyrsten Sinema, Andrei Cherny and David Schapira have all announced. Schapira won’t get very far. He’s got the excitement of Bradypus variegatus (everybody’s scrambling to Wikipedia) and no money raising skills. On the contrary, Kyrsten has made the contacts and trips to DC having rubbed elbows with DNC mukety-mucks and Obamatons. Andrei “I-can’t-wait-to-get-the-hell-outa-here” Cherny recently abandoned his chairmanship at the Arizona Democratic Party taking his mediocre fundraising skills with him. This leaves the ADP in a frantic scramble to replace him from among a rapidly diminishing talent pool. My assessment: Cherny and Sinema battle for the heart of Arizona leftists while it remains on life support. Close call in the August Primary but I’d have to guess Sinema eeks out a win. Cherny heads back to Califormia.

Travis Grantham

Now let’s talk about Republicans. Republicans actually have some great talent to put up. Some have ooodles of money, some are damn hard workers and others are simply looking for a career change to make a bigger difference. First to enter the race was Travis Grantham, a Gilbert resident, businessman and Air National Guard pilot. Grantham originally staked out a shot east of the new CD-9 but reoriented his trajectory not wanting to get caught in the crossfire of Adams vs. Salmon. Smart move but Grantham doesn’t live in the new CD-9 (although there’s nothing illegal with that.) He has a chance and is sitting on almost $120K.

Wendy Rogers

Next to file is my personal favorite (sorry gents, I always gravitate to the lady candidates), Wendy Rogers. Wendy actually lives in the district and has done so with her family for many years. She’s a retired USAF Lieutenant Colonel who works harder than anyone I know when it comes to anything she sets her heart on. Wendy has a loyal following of supporters not only here in Arizona but across the country who can be counted on to raise the money needed in a lickety-split second for this race. Wendy is a perfect match for the district.

In the wings waiting are Steve Moak, Vernon Parker, Gary Pierce and Martin Sepulveda. Maricopa County Supervisor Don Stapley has also been mentioned but with such high negatives and an already announced re-election campaign underway, his political days are numbered.

Steve Moak

Steve Moak ran in 2010 finishing 2nd in a 10-way primary. He’s likely got the cash but many question if he’s far more risk averse this time hesitant to charge up his 2012 campaign coffers.

Vernon Parker

Paradise Valley councilman Vernon Parker is also eyeing the race. Parker also ran in the crowded 10-way 2010 primary finishing 4th place. Parker is also seeking re-election to the Paradise Valley Council leaving many to question his motivations in seeking any public office. He is expected to decide any day.

Arizona Corporation Commissioner Gary Pierce also wants in on the action but he’s just settled into another term on the ACC. He’d have to step down under Arizona’s resign to run law given his term expires in 2014. Pierce has obviously run statewide but financed his ACC race using “Clean Elections” money. His ability to raise money for a federal campaign is probably one of the biggest factors he would have to weigh.

Gary Pierce

That leaves former Chandler City Councilman Martin Sepulveda as the last candidate considering. Sepulveda is a fiery US Navy combat veteran who have a great deal of respect for (we even had our own little political brush-up during the 2010 US Senate primary. What is it with us US Navy guys?) Given a sizeable number of Republicans reside in this portion of the district, Sepulveda would be competitive. He also served as a surrogate for our senior senator during the 2010 Republican primary. That kind of help could come in handy with the fundraising if the door is open.

Martin Sepulveda

That’s my assessment. I really can’t say who I’d like to see win the Republican primary but I do know that this will be a very competitive race with plenty of political drama. I can’t wait for the field to be set.

Arizona CD-4 & CD-1 Ruminations: Congressman Paul Gosar Moves, Gary Pierce vs. Bill Konopnicki?

Congressman Paul Gosar announced Saturday that he will be moving into the new congressional district 4 in order to seek “re-election” now that the final congressional lines appear to be headed for final approval. This puts Gosar smack dab in the middle of a real battle shaping up between State Senator Ron Gould and Pinal County Sheriff, Paul Babeu. Knowing the consultants behind these two candidates (Chris Baker and Chris DeRose, respectively), Gosar has his work cut out for him running against Gould, who has earned the highest ranking as an no-tax, small government conservative against Babeu, who has national name ID and a reputation for fighting illegal immigration and Mexican drug cartels.

Meanwhile in the new CD-1, former state representative and fast food magnate, Bill Konopnicki sent out these two tweets in the past week. One would surmise that he’s attempting to head off an entry into the CD-1 race by Arizona Corporation Commissioner, Gary Pierce who earned his reputation as a conservative willing to turn the lights out on Los Angeles. We’ll see if this shot across Pierce’s bow cause Pierce to puts all hands on deck.

Expect a handful of announcements and even resignations as the 2012 election officially kicks off this month!

This election season is about to get real exciting.

Pachyderms to Meet in Chino Valley

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Pachyderm meeting is Thursday, July 21 @ 6 p.m. @ Bonn Fire Restaurant, Chino Valley.

Speaker will be Gary Pierce from the Arizona Corporation Commission

Upcoming Speakers:
August: Ana Waylan Trujillo, Yavapai County Elections Department
September: Dr. Goldberg speaking on Islam religion
October: Congressman Paul Gosar
November: Attorney General Tom Horne

Please RSVP to Sue.



Friday Poll: Who should run for CD-6?

This week’s Friday poll is now up! (See the right sidebar)

This week we are polling on the race to replace Jeff Flake in Congressional District 6. On the list of candidates are a handful of legislators, prior candidates and local mayors.

Voting will go on for one week until next Friday’s poll.

Please share the poll with friends!