Arizona Republicans will choose two candidates in Tuesday’s primary to advance to the November ballot for seats on the Arizona Corporation Commission.
The GOP contenders are Nicholas Myers, Kim Owens and Kevin Thompson.
The winners of the primary election will face Democrats Sandra Kennedy, an incumbent, and Lauren Kuby, a councilor from Tempe, in November’s general election. With only two Democratic candidates on the ballot, both advance to the final round.
Owens is a former board member of the Salt River Project, serving as a public service shareholder liaison to elected officials who run the company. She is currently a member of the Arizona Power Authority, which oversees the allocation of electricity from dams on the Colorado River.
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Myers is a political adviser to Commissioner Justin Olson, who opted out of seeking a second term so he could run for the U.S. Senate. Myers is a contractor who became interested in commission when he was one of thousands of customers facing myriad problems with water and sewer company Johnson Utilities.
Thompson is a former Southwest Gas employee who now serves on the Mesa City Council.
The Arizona Corporation Commission regulates electric, water, and gas utilities. He also oversees pipeline safety, crossings and securities.
The five commissioners are elected statewide and earn about $80,000 a year. They serve four-year terms and in midterm elections two of the seats are on the ballot and three seats are on the ballot in years with a presidential election.
As with the state legislature, Republicans have long held a majority on the committee, though votes on the committee aren’t split along party lines as often as they are in the statehouse.
The commission is currently facing legal action from two major utilities over decisions made over the past year.
Arizona Public Service Co., the commission’s largest regulated company, is suing a decision last year that reduced the company’s profitability, which commissioners said was justified due to poor customer service issues and poor financial decisions within the company.
Salt River Project, which is not regulated by the commission but needs its approval to build new power plants, is pursuing a vote that prevented this company from expanding a gas plant that the company says is needed to avoid power outages in the summer beginning as soon as 2024.
Both of these votes had bipartisan support within the commission.
Contact Reporter Ryan Randazzo at Ryan.Randazzo@arizonarepublic.com or 602-444-4331. Follow him on Twitter @UtilityReporter.