Corporation Commission: Eric Sloan wants a ‘fair deal’ for Arizona ratepayers

Eric Sloan says he can’t imagine any Corporation Commissioner condoning a utility shutting off power in extreme heat. “There is an absence of understanding when utilities are turned off in the middle of an Arizona summer.” (Photo courtesy of Eric Sloan campaign)

Candidate name: Eric Sloan
Political affiliation: Republican
Position sought: Arizona corporation commissioner
City of residence: Scottsdale
Age: 38
Career: Owner of an economic development firm

With the election just days away, Cronkite News is profiling candidates on the Nov. 3 ballot. The five-member Corporation Commission, which was established by the Arizona Constitution, regulates public utilities and decides rate adjustments, assists incorporation of businesses, enforces safety and public service requirements and approves securities matters.

Under the Renewable Energy Standard Tariff, which the commission adopted in 2006, energy companies are required to get 15% of their power from renewable sources by 2025 and charge customers for it through a fee on their bills.

Would you change that requirement if elected?

Arizonans paid significantly more than they would have if this energy had been purchased on the open market, he said, and that money should be returned to ratepayers.

“The cost of solar has actually come down.”

Sloan wants to create a fair deal in Arizona, and one way to do that is to not lock people into mandates or subsidies “because everytime you mandate something or the commission subsidizes something, that comes out of our pocket.”

What would factor into your decision to grant or deny a rate hike for a utility company?

Many commissioners start by saying “yes” to rate increases.

“I have an 8-year-old daughter. So a lot of the times when you have kids, you have to learn how to start with the word ‘no’ and you work toward a ‘yes.'”

Past commissions, by Sloan’s estimates, have exceeded almost a half of a billion dollars in rate increases in the past decade alone. He also criticized a $184 million rate hike recently requested by Arizona Public Service, the state’s largest electricity producer, saying that asking for more money during the pandemic “shows that these utility companies are completely out of touch.”

Is it appropriate for utility companies to disconnect services in extreme temperatures?

It’s never appropriate.

“It’s a life safety issue when it comes to the disconnection of services when you have extreme heat.”

Previous commissions should have addressed this issue, he said, and he could not “imagine a situation where anybody who served on the commission could have thought that it was appropriate.”

“There is an absence of understanding when utilities are turned off in the middle of an Arizona summer.”
When he was younger, he said, his mother couldn’t always make ends meet.

“There were lots of times where the utilities would get turned off and we’d have to go stay at a friend’s house. I didn’t really understand it as a kid; I understand it now as a father.”

Do you have concerns regarding the security of our election?

The election is secure in terms of mail-in and absentee ballots, he said, adding, “That’s never been an issue in Arizona.”

He said he has participated in the voting process as both a candidate and as a voter, and does not see an issue.
“I understand that both Democrats and Republicans will try to make political hay out of election security issues.”

What is the greatest issue Arizona residents face? If elected, how would you address it?

“The greatest issue we face right now is getting through this crisis. COVID has fundamentally changed a lot of things around the world, especially here in Arizona.”

Regarding the commission, Sloan said the greatest issue in Arizona is the elimination of peak rates for electricity use.

Sloan noted that on weekdays, there’s an increase on many utility bills from 3 to 8 p.m. That was fine when people were at school or at work, but with most families sheltering in place, “the utility companies have seen massive profits because of the utility usage.”

Arizona’s record heat this summer also increased demand for electricity.

“When people are using more electricity, it’s putting more families in debt. And candidly, it’s making it harder for senior citizens who are on fixed incomes to be able to afford the electricity they need in order to survive.”

What other issues are important to you and your campaign?

“Consumer protection is something that really has to become a focus point in Arizona.”

COVID-19 has shown that Arizonans are not receiving the quality of service they deserve and are paying for.
Railroad safety is important to Sloan’s campaign.

“Here in Tempe, Arizona, we had a major train accident that resulted in the bridge collapse,” he said, referring to the partial derailment of a Union Pacific train in July.

Sloan’s biggest issue is giving Arizonans a fair deal by returning to ratepayers the extra money that utility companies haven taken from them.

“What’s happening now is that the utility companies are taking advantage of Arizona citizens, and Arizona citizens don’t have anyone defending them because the commission is supposed to defend them and that’s not happening.”

What makes you the best candidate to hold this office?

Sloan noted his volunteer experience, including being the volunteer coordinator for a Martin Luther King Jr. celebration.

The main difference between him and the other candidates, he said, is that he’s young and has a young family.

“I understand the impact of what’s happening at the commission on people in an everyday situation.”

In addition, being a successful businessman helps him by “bringing that experience, bringing the understanding of how these issues really impact people on a day-to day-basis.”

Never having held public office can help him “come at things in a new creative way that other people who are in public office can’t.”

What is a personal challenge you feel you need to overcome?

The pandemic has made campaigning for a statewide office difficult, forcing Sloan to rely on Zoom and similar services to reach voters with his message of “lowering rates, getting consumer protections in place, getting Arizonans a fair deal.”

Please share a quote or advice that you live by

“Do the right thing.”

Campaign website:

ericsloan.com

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