AZ Votes Debate: Republican candidates for Arizona Corporation Commission | Apr. 4, 2024

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On April 4, Ted Simons hosted four Republican candidates running for the three open seats on the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) as they debated various issues.

The Arizona Corporation Commission handles utility services, railroad, and pipeline systems and works alongside Arizona’s future entrepreneurs.

The candidates: Christy Kelly, a journalist and professional mediator; Rene Lopez, former Navy Cryptologic Officer and former Chandler City Council Member; Lea Marquez Peterson, a member of the Arizona Corporation Commission, and Rachel Walden, Mesa Public Schools Governing Board member.

The candidates voiced their opinions on various topics such as the purpose of ACC, protecting ratepayers and utilities, energy sufficiency, APS rate hikes, and more.

Kelly mentioned one of her main priorities is to bring more understanding and accessibility to the Arizona Corporation Commission.

According to Kelly, residents feel a lack of connection to the ACC up until election time, or “when we raise rates or when we have really tough rate cases. We need to go back in the community, hold town halls, let them know why we had to vote how we did and actually be more in the community,” she said.

Kelly and Walden both voiced their opinions about solar power and emphasized it’s not ready to be Arizona’s primary energy source, coupled with the fact that natural gas is cheaper.

“We don’t have the technology to store the (solar) power, so it’s great during the day, but nobody’s home during the day,” Walden said, adding that natural gas is then utilized at night. “I’m a fan of solar for part of the mixed portfolio, but we can’t be over-reliant on it because it just increases our reliance on natural gas,” Walden added.

Walden advocated for protecting the rate-payer dollars. “We’re not a fourth branch of government. We shouldn’t be writing policies and laws. We can let the legislature do that. Three people is not a big enough voice for the entire state of Arizona, so we should focus on what the constitution says, and focus on keeping the rates down and utilities reliable,” she said.

Leading into campaigning, the candidates mentioned their opinions on clean campaign initiatives.

“When you’re talking hundreds of millions, billions of dollars, that are affecting the bottom line, that’s a lot of influence, and that needs to stay out,” Lopez said.

Moving to closing statements, Marquez Peterson, who is running for re-election, stated, “I would like to continue serving, focusing on energy reliability at the lowest cost possible.”

Christy Kelly, Journalist and professional mediator
Rene Lopez, former Navy Cryptologic Officer and former Chandler City Council Member
Lea Marquez Peterson, Member of the Arizona Corporation Commission
Rachel Walden, Mesa Public Schools Governing Board member

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