A Matter of Degrees

The ‘Darth Vader’ of Electric Utilities

Jan. 7, 2021

In 2013, a series of attack ads blitzed television sets across Arizona. They warned of a dire threat to senior citizens. Who was the villain? Solar energy. These ads came from front groups funded by Arizona Public Service, the state’s largest utility. It was part of a years-long fight against rooftop solar that turned ugly. “I mean, for Star Wars fans, APS became the Darth Vader of electric utilities in America. I mean, I think you would be hard-pressed to find a utility that behaved as badly as APS did in the last decade,” explains former regulator Kris Mayes. But APS isn’t alone. It’s a prime example of how monopoly utilities abuse their power to influence regulatory decisions and slow clean-energy progress. What happens if your electric utility starts doing things you don’t agree with? What if they start attacking solar and proposing to build more and more fossil gas plants? What if they actively resist clean energy progress?  Well, you don’t get a choice. You have to buy electricity, and you have to buy it from them. As a customer you’re funding that.  In this episode, we’ll detail how it happened in Arizona -- and how public pressure forced APS’ to come clean. Featured in this episode: Ryan Randazzo, Kris Mayes, David Pomerantz.  Follow our co-hosts and production team: Leah Stokes Katharine Wilkinson Stephen Lacey Jaime Kaiser A Matter of Degrees is a production of Post Script Audio.  For more episodes and transcripts, visit our website.

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