PHOENIX (AP) — State officials are being told that eliminating the monopoly status of utilities that sell electricity to retail customers could either benefit consumers by providing more choices and generating competition or create turmoil putting those same consumers at risk of having to pay higher rates.
Advocates on both sides of the issue spoke Tuesday during a workshop held by the state Residential Utility Consumer Office, The Arizona Republic reported (http://bit.ly/1516Chy ).
RUCO advocates on behalf of consumers in Arizona Corporation Commission proceedings involving regulated utilities such as Arizona Public Service Co. and Tucson Electric Power.
Under deregulation, customers can choose their power suppliers. Local utilities still use their wires to deliver power to customers' meters, for a price, but customers can buy the power from a source other than the local utility.
Some power companies support deregulation, while opponents of deregulation include APS, the state's largest utility.
"The benefits are unknown but the costs and risks are very real," said Jeff Guldner, APS senior vice president of customers and regulation.
The Corporation Commission is expected to hold a public meeting on deregulation by early October. Whatever it decides would have impacts outside Arizona because the state's utilities share ownership of various power plants.
It's not clear whether deregulation is even possible.
Arizona's previous move toward deregulation a decade ago was derailed in part because of a court ruling that ruled that some of the Corporation Commission's rules were unconstitutional and that others were adopted improperly.
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