News Feature | February 6, 2014

AARP Fights Water Utilities In Arizona

By Sara Jerome
@sarmje

ElderyCoupleOnBeach

AARP, the advocacy group aimed at protecting the interests of people over 50, is diving into Arizona water policy. 

The group is lobbying against water companies in a rate case that the group sees as dangerous to water customers, Your West Valley News reported

The rate case went before the Arizona Corporation Commission, which regulates utility rate adjustments. The Commission looked at the issue last year and came up with what AARP sees as an unfavorable decision for customers. 

The thrust of the issue is that the companies want to incorporate the costs of their income taxes into ratepayer bills. 

"AARP is asking utility regulators to reconsider their decision to allow the Johnson Utilities and Pima Utility water companies to charge customers for the income-tax expenses the company owners face from their company profit," the Republic reported

"Those taxes would be verified by an unidentified certified public accountant as being less than the host water companies actually pay but the identity of the CPA is not disclosed and neither are the figures they used to arrive at a number," the West Valley report said. 

"The implications are great,” an AARP spokeswoman said in the report. “This will affect ratepayers everywhere.”

The backdrop: "The issue of charging income-tax expenses has been brewing at the [Arizona Corporation Commission] for more than two years. Utilities set their rates by adding up all of their justifiable expenses in a given year and then asking the commission to approve rates that allow them to recover those expenses plus a given profit," the Republic said. 

Water rates are a key topic for AARP, which speaks up about this issue on an ongoing basis. 

"Keeping water rates affordable for consumers is an important issue as water rates are increasing at a much faster pace than inflation or other utility rates. This is a particular hardship for those with low incomes or on fixed incomes as the percentage of their income needed to pay their water bill increases," the group's public policy unit wrote.  

For more on government oversight, check out Water Online's Regulations and Legislation Solution Center

Image credit: "Elderly couple on the beach," © 2005 David, Bergin, Emmett and Elliott, used under an Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

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