Miller v. Arizona Corporation Commission

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According to the Arizona state Constitution, the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) has the full power to, “prescribe just and reasonable classifications to be used and just and reasonable rates and charges to be made and collected, by public service corporations within the state for service rendered therein, and make reasonable rules, regulations, and orders, by which such corporations shall be governed in the transaction of business within the state…”[1] In a controversial move, the ACC adopted a new policy known as the Renewable Energy Standard and Tariff (REST). REST required public utilities in Arizona to run a certain amount of their power from renewable energy sources. The move brought into question whether the ACC had constitutional authority to impose such a requirement on utilities. The Goldwater Institute filed suit arguing that the ACC had expanded its powers beyond its constitutional jurisdiction.[2] According to the director of the Goldwater Institute Scharf-Norton Center For Constitutional Litigation, Clint Bolick, “The rules are an unconstitutional power grab by an agency that is rapidly becoming Arizona’s fourth branch of government.”[3] The Arizona Public Service (APS) utility estimated that for the fiscal year of 2008, the cost of the new renewable energy standards would cost $48.2 million. By 2012, the APS estimated the costs would reach $347 million. But Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard, issued an opinion saying that they were within their constitutional jurisdiction to set a renewable energy standard.[4]

Lawsuit[edit]

In June 2008, the Goldwater Institute filed a request to the Arizona Supreme Court to strike down the regulations imposed by the ACC. In November 2008, the Goldwater Institute re-filed in two lower courts where the Maricopa County Superior Court finally accepted Goldwater’s request to hear the case. Oral arguments began in June 2009. On September 2, 2009, a Maricopa County Superior Court Judge ruled in favor of the Arizona Corporation Commission. Two months later, the Goldwater Institute filed an appeal.[5] Reflecting on Goldwater’s attempts to overturn the ACC’s renewable energy standards, Tim Hogan of the Arizona Center for Law in Public Interest, said, “I don’t see how investing in renewable energy can be a bad thing for our state.”[6] Currently, the appeal is still pending.

Case Timeline[edit]

November 14, 2006: The Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) adopts the Renewable Energy Standard and Tariff (REST) Rules.

February 1, 2007: Arizona Chief Assistant Attorney Terri Skladany tells ACC that the authority it cited to promulgate the REST rules is "vague."

March 30, 2007: ACC submits a memorandum in response in which it admits that there is no "isolated source of statutory or constitutional authority" to support the REST rules.

June 15, 2007: The Arizona Attorney General approves the REST rules.

August 14, 2007: The REST rules go into effect.

April 28, 2008: The APS implementation plan for REST is approved by the ACC, and APS estimates costs of $48.2 million in 2008 and total $347 million by 2012.

June 27, 2008: The Goldwater Institute asks the Arizona Supreme Court to strike down the regulations imposed by the ACC.

November 12, 2008: The Goldwater Institute refiles special action in the Court of Appeals after Arizona Supreme Court declines to exercise special-action jurisdiction.

November 19, 2008: The Goldwater Institute refiles complaint in the Superior Court after the Court of Appeals declines to exercise special-action jurisdiction.

June 15, 2009: The Hon. Joseph Heilman heard oral arguments at 10:00 am in Courtroom 814, 101 W. Jefferson in Phoenix.

September 2, 2009: Judge Heilman ruled in favor of the Arizona Corporation Commission. The Goldwater Institute decides to appeal.

November 2, 2009: Goldwater Institute files appeal.

November 16, 2010: Arguments scheduled at 10:15 a.m. in Court of Appeals, Courtroom #1 (second floor), 1501 W. Washington Street, Phoenix.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ “Arizona Constitution”, Arizona State Legislature.
  2. ^ “Miller v. Arizona Corporation Commission”, The Goldwater Institute.
  3. ^ Rhoades, Starlee.“Goldwater Institute Challenges $48.2 million APS Rate Charge”, Goldwater Institute News Release, June 27, 2008.
  4. ^ O’Grady, Patrick.“Goldwater Institute sues Arizona Corporation Commission over renewable energy fee”, Phoenix Business Journal, June 27, 2008.
  5. ^ “Miller v. Arizona Corporation Commission”, The Goldwater Institute.
  6. ^ Náñez, Dianna.“Goldwater Institute Blazing a Conservative Legal Trail”, The Arizona Republic, March 28, 2010.