Originally Published: August 16, 2004 7 a.m.
Mayes: The importance of the ACC is the ACC has a dramatic impact on people's lives. We set rates for all public utilities, from electricity to natural gas. It is important that the people on the commission will always have the best interests of consumers and ratepayers in mind. We regulate pipeline safety, railroad safety, utilities, investments. We also do corporate filings. When a business is created, they have to do their filing with us.
Why are you running and what do you hope to accomplish?
Seel: I am running because I believe we need a long-term plan. I have relevant experience. I am a business owner and former securities license owner, which is direct experience to the post. I am a hard-working, honored Republican. I have been a precinct committeeman. … What it is showing is that I have a broad base of support, and that is very relevant. I want to engage in a comprehensive energy management plan for the future, which is vital to sustain our economic growth. In addition to that, I want to streamline filing of corporations and issuing of their chartered certificates, which will help create more business. And I want to use more PSAs (public service announcements) to advise people of current securities frauds.
Mayes: I'm running because I have a passion for fighting for ratepayers and consumers and I want to continue to work on reducing natural gas rates in Northern Arizona and I want to address the shortage of infrastructure our state is facing – everything from pipelines to bolstering our electrical grid. And I think we need to expand the amount of renewable energy that we can use. Arizona should be the solar (energy) capital of the world. … My goal is to increase the renewable energy requirement of our (public) utilities from 1.1 percent to 10 percent.
What are the major issues facing the commission in rural Arizona?
Seel: The top of the list for rural Arizona will be water issues, more specifically the (federal) EPA's (Environmental Protection Agency) new arsenic standards. They have changed from 50 parts per billion to 10 parts per billion (effective) on January of 2006. That is going to have a tremendous impact on small water companies. Other issues are the implementation of advanced telecommunications technology. I have ideas to use the Universal Service Fund to stimulate economic growth in rural Arizona. The Universal Service Fund is a surcharge on your phone line.
Mayes: The major issues facing communities like Prescott are the extremely high cost of natural gas and the lack of broadband facilities for high-speed Internet. One of my big goals over the next two years is to bridge the digital divide between urban and rural Arizona. Communities like Prescott and Payson and Bagdad have been left out. And electricity prices will be a big issue because APS has come in asking for a 10 percent increase in rates, and our staff is recommending a 9 percent decrease in rates. And I will promise you that I will ask some very tough questions.