Arizona can’t mandate its way to clean energy, according to Nick Myers, a Republican candidate for the Arizona Corporation Commission.
Renewable energy, he said, is still “amazingly expensive to do” and “not feasible at this time.” With mandates, “you’re literally committing people to billions and billions … to go down (a) path they don’t necessarily need to go to if we let technology drive the transition.”
Instead, Myers said, it’s better to consult with utilities on what steps to take.
“You work more cooperatively up front instead of just beating them up at the end.”
Myers and Republican Kevin Thompson are campaigning for two open seats on the five-member Corporation Commission, which regulates electricity, water and gas providers, and approves the rates that consumers pay. More than 300 small and large water companies are under the commission’s jurisdiction.
They face Democrats Lauren Kuby and Sandra Kennedy, an incumbent. If Myers and Thompson both win, only one Democrat would be on the five-person commission.
Myers, who has worked as a policy adviser for Corporation Commissioner Justin Olson since 2021, said he will bring a “businesslike approach” to utility regulation. He has 20 years of experience in the tech industry, working as a software engineer and manager. He also ran an IT company, a water delivery service and a dog training facility.
Myers talked about his campaign and his priorities in an interview for Cronkite News.
Q: Why are you interested in this job?
Myers said he began working for the Corporation Commission after he filed a complaint against Johnson Utilities, the troubled water and sewer company in the East Valley that had been cited repeatedly by the state for sewage spills, poor water quality and odors. The company left hundreds of rural customers without water when it cut off access to a water spigot, according to The Arizona Republic. Commissioners ordered the spigot turned back on.
Myers said he has been working for the commission ever since, “and so now, I guess, it’s my turn.”
He said he will work to lower costs for ratepayers by bringing regulatory stability to the commission.
“There seems to be a lot of the commission kind of changing the rules in the middle of the game, and we need to stop doing that.”
Q: What in your past work, political or volunteer experience makes you the best candidate?
“The commission for the last 20 years or more has been mostly a stepping stone for politicians, meaning they’ll use it to bump up their retirement and then go away.”
The commission’s failure to recognize Johnson Utilities’ bad practices is one proof of its need for a change, he said.
Q: What are the major issues facing Arizona?
The border, the economy and jobs are things that “everybody needs to focus on,” Myers said. And the “economy and jobs are things that do have a nexus at the Corporation Commission.”
Q: What will be your top priorities if elected?
“Keeping rates low and keeping services reliable.”
He also said he thinks the commission, which was established by the Arizona Constitution, has been overstepping its authority to regulate public service companies.
The commission should “get back to making sure the utilities are doing what’s best in a timely manner to make sure that our grid infrastructure is reliable.”
Utility companies are best regulated through cooperation, Myers said.
“I’m not saying that we’re going to be utility shields. I’m not saying that we’re going to give them everything that they want, but it generally works better if people work cooperatively together to find better solutions than to sit here and just headbutt each other.”
Q: Do you support maintaining the current renewable energy mandates? Why or why not?
Myers is “not a big fan” of mandates, he said, because mandates tend to turn into higher rates for customers.
“The moment you tell a utility what they must do, you’ve now removed any accountability from that utility. If they go out and meet that mandate, you’re guaranteeing that they’re going to recoup those costs from the ratepayers.”
Currently, electric utilities must show the Corporation Commission they have complied with the 2006 renewable energy standard to get 15% of their power from renewable sources by 2025. But meeting that standard can be too costly, Myers said. For instance, the Solana Generating Station, a solar power plant in Gila Bend, was built to meet the standard and now costs too much to operate, he said.
Commissioners should not favor one source of energy over another, he said.
“We don’t pick solar over wind over nuclear over hydrogen. We just guide them into the path that creates the most reliable grid at the best cost.”
Q: How will you work to improve bipartisanship in politics?
“Once you’re elected, the politics need to go away. You are now governing. If the Democrat that’s on there brings to me a good idea and it makes sense and the data’s there to back it up, let’s go down that path.”
Q: Do you have any concerns regarding the security of our elections?
“As a candidate, of course, I have concerns. I don’t want people to be cheating or do anything like that, and I hope people aren’t doing that.”
He said there were “a lot of inaccuracies” in the 2020 election, but he doesn’t go so far as to call it fraud.
“I’m just not convinced either way yet, largely because that’s not a topic that I’ve dealt with.”
Q: What is a personal challenge you need to overcome?
“I tend to take an awful lot on my plate,” he said – a result of his Midwestern upbringing. “If you want something done right, you do it yourself.”
Q: Please share a quote or advice that you live by.
“I treat others the way I want them to treat me.”