By Karen Contos.
Seven members of the Salt River Project (SRP) are up for election on April 7. The SRP, which has been anti-solar power, sets electric rates for 15 cities near Phoenix.
Because the Arizona Corporation Commission does not regulate the SRP, the makeup of the District Board is crucial to hold management accountable. The SRP District Board is composed of 14 board members elected, 7 of which are elected every 2 years. Board responsibilities include establishing specific policy, approving the annual budgets and major contracts, authorizing major purchases and sales of assets, and setting electricity prices.
The jurisdiction of the SRP District Board is the whole service territory, which is much larger than the voting district, which was created in 1937.
In February 2015, the current Board approved new solar generation rates for residential customers that made installing solar not a good investment. The utility had another rate-setting process in May 2019, but the Board kept the E-27 rate from before and added 2 more, which are still punitive to homeowners who install solar.
Since February 2015 and the rate-setting process last May, 5,000 SRP homeowners installed solar (out of 1 million ratepayers). During that same time period, Arizona Public Service (APS), a slightly larger utility, 50,000 homeowners installed solar panels.
Eligible voters total around 50% of ratepayers. Are you an Eligible Voter? You must be a ratepayer, a homeowner and live in the Voting District. The Voting District hasn’t changed since its inception in 1937. A whopping 40% of ratepayers live outside of the Voting District and this number continues to grow, thanks to the growth in the East Valley.
SRP’s election system is based on acreage voting, so the more acres you have, the more votes you get to cast. If you own a standard home on a ¼ acre, you get ¼ of a vote!
Of the estimated 500,000 eligible voters, only 6,000 voted in the last election! Why? Because SRP does not advertise their elections nor do they mention it on ratepayer bills. If the public utility wanted a democratic election, they would change their ways. Management and the majority of the Board want to keep a low turnout and keep the current board intact.
If you are an Eligible Voter, then please register to vote. You can do this online, at https://www.srpnet.com/elections/Default.aspx.
In addition, if you are an Eligible Voter and have some spare time and want to get paid for going to meetings, consider running for a Board position! The deadline to submit your paperwork to SRP is February 7, 2020.
Positions open for this upcoming election are seven Board seats, one from each of the five odd-numbered voting districts (1,3,5,7,9) and the two At-Large seats, 11 and 13. Unlike the District Board positions, the At-Large Seats are elected on a one-individual, one-vote basis. The terms of office are four years beginning on May 4, 2020.
If you are NOT eligible to vote, you can still ask your family and friends to register to vote and VOTE for pro-solar candidates. You can also send an email to the Corporate Secretary, John Felty, at John.Felty@srpnet.com. Tell him that you support democratic elections and that every ratepayer should be able to vote in SRP elections! Ask John to send a copy of your email to the Governance Committee Chairperson, Leslie C. Williams.
If the SRP Board had more pro-renewable energy members, rates for solar generating customers could be reduced, which would likely substantially increase the amount of rooftop solar installed in SRP territory. The clean and abundant energy of the sun would lower carbon emissions and protect the health of our communities for future generations.