A Matter of Degrees

The ‘Darth Vader’ of Electric Utilities

Feb. 2, 2023

Electric utilities are falling short on climate action. To explain why, we’re bringing back our season one finale. This episode features former utilities regulator Kris Mayes, who recently won a nail-biting election to become the second woman and first openly LGBTQ attorney general of Arizona. Go, Kris! Since season one, Leah has been busy investigating utilities’ past and present role spreading climate denial, doubt, and delay. You can read the paper she co-wrote on the topic last fall, and discover the dirty truth about your electric utility and their climate plans in the report she released with Sierra Club. Spoiler alert, Arizona Public Service is one of the top offenders. We can’t wait to share the whole sordid tale with you one more time… 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.

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