Corporation Commission: Anna Tovar wants to ensure renewable energy is affordable

Commissioners are required to act as impartial judges in cases before the commission, Anna Tovar says, considering all the evidence before them. “I don’t have an issue asking the tough questions and making sure my priority is putting Arizonans first.” (Photo courtesy of Anna Tovar campagin)

Candidate name: Anna Tovar
Political affiliation: Democrat
Position sought: Arizona corporation commissioner
City of residence: Tolleson
Career: Mayor of Tolleson; former teacher and Arizona legislator

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?

Renewable energy is a key reason Tovar entered the race. Arizona needs to move forward to renewable energy and create clean jobs, but she wants to make sure the costs don’t prevent communities of need from utilizing renewable energy at their homes or businesses.

Tovar wants to protect consumers, making sure the concerns of everyday Arizonans are heard.

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

As described in Arizona’s Constitution, the commission is a quasi-judicial entity. Commissioners are required to act as impartial judges in cases before the commission, Tovar said, considering all the evidence presented to them.

“I don’t have an issue asking the tough questions and making sure my priority is putting Arizonans first.”

Her No. 1 priority is being a voice for Arizona families.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story included inaccurate information about Anna Tovar’s age. Cronkite News has not verified Tovar’s age, and the category has been removed from the candidate’s bio.

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

When the COVID-19 pandemic was declared in March, Tovar, as mayor of Tolleson, declared a moratorium on water shutoffs for unpaid bills. The city is working with customers and has set up a payment system that does not charge late fees.

Regulators, legislators and utilities need to be creative with policies so that Arizonans don’t have to choose between paying a bill or buying food for their families.

“We don’t want anyone to suffer that consequence of passing away because of the heat.”

Do you have concerns regarding the security of our election?

Tovar is confident the state has processes in place to protect the vote against fraud, and she noted that polling locations are putting COVID-19 safety measures in place.

Secretary of State Katie Hobbs and her office, she said, have been working diligently for the last two years to make sure that Arizona is free from out-of-state interference.

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

COVID-19 and working to get through the pandemic stronger. Families are making difficult decisions every day, and the key is to have a plan of action and cohesive communication.

There isn’t a national or state plan on COVID-19, leaving mayors across Arizona to make decisions without a playbook. “As mayor, at times I feel that I am alone,” she said.

What other issues are important to you and your campaign?

Before COVID-19, Tovar campaigned across Arizona discussing the importance of the Arizona Corporation Commission and how it affects lives. Many people she spoke with were shocked that the corporation existed and had that much of an impact, she said.

“It is one of the most powerful entities here in the state that people know very little about. For me, I want to make sure that I am restoring trust and accountability to the commission, expanding on our renewable energy.”

What makes you the best candidate to hold this office?

Moving Arizona to clean renewable energy and creating healthier environments statewide is personal to Tovar, who in 2001 contracted a rare form of leukemia after exposure to an environmental toxin.

“I definitely don’t want a family, a child, a senior to go through a similar situation that I went through because of a toxin that entered my body that caused leukemia. Gratefully I am here today.”

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

As a people person, it’s difficult to not interact in person with Arizonans because of the coronavirus and the restrictions in place to curb its spread.

Please share a quote or advice that you live by

“Never give up hope.”

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