Written by Mallory Kvek
Bill Mundell is running for a seat on the Arizona Corporation Commission as a proud member of the Solar Team 2020, in partnership with Shea Stanfield and Anna Tovar. Upon election, they will join Commissioner Sandra Kennedy to make a super majority in the Commission, which is imperative in making lasting changes to policies and the Commission’s Code of Ethics.
What is the Arizona Corporation Commission?
The Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) is often referred to as the “fourth branch of government.” By virtue of the Arizona Constitution, the Commissioners function in an Executive capacity, they adopt rules and regulations thereby functioning in a Legislative capacity, and they also act in a Judicial capacity sitting as a tribunal and making decisions in contested matters. The ACC’s main duties include regulating public utility companies, regulating the incorporation of businesses and organizations, securities regulation, and railroad/pipeline safety.
Originally, the Commission was made up of three Commissioners, but in November 2000, it was expanded to five Commissioners. The measure also changed the office terms from one six year term, to one four year term with the possibility of re-election to one consecutive four year term.
William “Bill” Mundell served on the ACC from 1999-2009. In 2006, he authored the Renewable Energy Standard and Tariff (REST) Rules, which require regulated public utilities to generate 15 percent of their energy from renewable resources by 2025. This was innovative in 2006; at the time Arizona had less than 1% renewable energy. The adoption of the REST Rules and the mandates Bill helped approve with it have saved $2 billion for ratepayers, and Arizona has climbed to 13% renewable energy year after year.
Republican candidates Eric Sloan and Jim O’Connor do not want to keep the 15% requirement in place, let alone increase it in the coming years. Jim O’Connor does not even believe climate change is real. The third Republican candidate, who was appointed to the Commission by Gov. Ducey in 2019, Lea Marquez-Peterson, has recently introduced a new plan with the goal of 100% clean energy by 2050, with an interim goal of 50% clean energy by 2035.
Sounds great, right? There are two key things missing from this plan.
First, she has proposed a GOAL, not a REQUIREMENT. It would be up to the utility companies regulated by the Commission, such as APS, to figure out how and when to meet that goal. APS is already at 50% clean energy, so the measure does nothing to push APS to increase their clean energy operations realistically until 2035, since they’re already at her benchmark for that year. That is a lot of wasted time to not be proactively fighting climate change.
Second, her proposal lays out a plan for clean energy, but renewable energy was left out. “Clean includes energy produced by nuclear power, which, although carbon-free, also produces radioactive waste that must be disposed of” (Arizona Mirror). Renewable energy is collected from renewable resources, such as sunlight, wind, and rain.
As our rainy days are declining and hotter days are getting hotter due to scientifically proven climate change, we must do everything we can to combat it. We must focus increasing our renewable energy requirements, past the 15% already put in place by Bill 14 years ago. Record after record keep getting broken with higher heat and more days of sunshine than previous years. We must harness this sunlight and use it for renewable energy. Arizona is the perfect place to be the solar capital of the world, we just need to elect the right candidates into office who will put the right policies in place. Candidates that are for the people and the environment, not for the utility companies.
This is why Bill is seeking re-election to the Commission in partnership with Shea Stanfield and Anna Tovar.
I really want to get back there to protect families from non-stop unjustified rate increases, make Arizona the solar capital of the world, and stop the dark money that has corrupted the commission in recent years in our democracy in general.Bill Mundell to ABC15 News
You can find more about the ACC’s history and the corruption of former Commissioners, which have led to higher rates for ratepayers and many believe broke the trust of the public with the Commission, in our article about Shea Stanfield.
Who is Bill Mundell?
Bill was raised in a military family and moved to Arizona with his parents while in high school. He graduated from ASU with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. He then graduated from law school from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas.
Bill has a long history of public service in Arizona. After fighting police and judicial corruption in Chandler, Bill was appointed at age 27, the Presiding Judge of the Chandler Municipal Court, where he served for six years.
Bill next served in the Arizona House of Representatives for six years and was Chair of the Environment Committee. During his tenure, Bill wrote numerous laws protecting Arizona’s environment, including an historic law preventing Arizona from becoming the nation’s dumping ground for hazardous waste, the state’s first recycling law and laws protecting our rivers, mountains, and native plants.
Bill continued his public service as a Commissioner on the Arizona Corporation Commission for nine years (1999 to 2009). He was appointed to the ACC by Gov. Jane Dee Hull, then elected into office by voters for two more terms. In 2001, when he was Chair, Arizona was one of the first states to require its utilities generate a percentage of their electricity from renewable sources, such as solar and wind. In 2006, he co-authored the current renewable energy requirement: The REST Rules. These rules substantially increased the required renewable energy percentage and at the time, made Arizona a leader in the installation of rooftop solar.
Bill is married with two daughters. His wife, Barbara, was the first woman Presiding Judge of the Maricopa County Superior Court and the first and only Lantina.
How a vote for Bill will impact the future of Arizona; an interview with Bill and a member of our team:
If re-elected, how will you work to restore Arizonan’s trust in the Arizona Corporation Commission that many believe was broken, due to previous member’s self dealing and behind the scenes negotiations?
The first thing would be to toughen and strengthen the so called Code of Ethics, there are so many loopholes in it. Specifically, I would strengthen it to prohibit gifts, meals, drinks, and lodging given to Commissioners from utility companies. I would require that all meetings take place at the Commission office, not at some fancy expensive restaurant, where executives are paying for meals like they’ve done in the past. I would also stop the revolving door where Commissioners and Commission employees immediately leave the ACC and go directly to work for the utility companies they just regulated.
The REST rules require Arizona to be at 15% renewable energy by 2025. As of 2020, we are at 13%. There are current Republican Commissioners and candidates that want to do away with the REST rules all together, and replace them with clean energy goals, instead of renewable energy requirements. If re-elected, how will you ensure Arizona will reach 15% renewable energy by 2025 and advocate for further requirements?
When I served on the commission for 9 years, I wrote the current renewable energy standard in Arizona, The REST Rules, which require 15% electricity from solar, wind, and geothermal by 2025. I support Commissioner Sandra Kennedy’s proposal, The KREST Rules, which has the requirement, not goal, of 30% renewable energy by 2028. I strongly support her proposal, she is actually the Chair of my campaign. We are not on target for where we should be. We need to elect all 3 Democrats so we can move this state forward. Republican opponents don’t even want to keep the current 15% requirement in place, let alone increase it.
There are so many factors in this pandemic that directly affect the average Arizonan; working from home, balancing a full-time job while home schooling children, or losing your employment due to company shut downs and lay-offs, just to name a few. As an Arizona Corporation Commissioner, how will you support those effected by the current Covid-19 pandemic?
Electricity bills have skyrocketed because families are staying home and requiring much more electricity. I will ask for an immediate review of utility rates, specifically the 2017 unjustified APS rate increase. I will also make sure that there is sufficient funding for low-income families to pay their bills and prevent shutoffs.
You’ve identified protecting ratepayers as an important issue in your platform. What does that protection mean to you, and how will Arizonans see that protection as a result of you being re-elected as a Commissioner?
What’s been occurring at the Commission over the last 8 years is that the Commissioners were elected by the very utilities they regulate. They have rubber-stamped almost every rate increase that has been put in front of them. When I was on the Commission, I voted to reduce rates for Tucson Electric Power Company customers and also to reduce rates on APS customers. If appropriate, I will do so again. The dark money spending by the utilities has led to the corruption of the Commission, and resulted in the non stop rate increase and the crushing of roof top solar. Families that have roof top solar are paying significantly less per month for electricity than non solar families.
How should the Commission work with other agencies or branches (legislature, administration, and courts) to address Arizona’s water needs?
The Commission should take a leadership role; the Commission regulates over 300 private water and waste water companies.
When I was a Commissioner, we ordered those companies to institute measures that conserve water, ground water in particular. Those measures included tiered rates, meaning you pay less per gallon for the first water that you use, as opposed to the next water you use. For example, you pay $1 for the first 1000 gallons, then $2 for the next thousand, and $3 for the next. It encourages conservation as you use more water. Additionally, most of these private water companies are in rural Arizona, that doesn’t have the same conservation requirements as urban parts of the state.
We also banned the use of groundwater for artificial features and artificial lakes, when it was appropriate, to protect the groundwater in the area.
The Commission decides what type of power plants we have in Arizona, and if we utilize more renewable energy to generate electricity instead of building gigantic new fossil fuel plants, which use massive amounts of water, we will use much less water, specifically ground water.
If re-elected, what is your #1 priority to address? What motivates you to run to office?
My number one priority is to bring back trust and accountability to the Commission.
I was raised in a military family and always taught “country and community over self.” So I got involved as a young lawyer fighting corruption in Chandler. I want to return to the Commission to fight the corruption that’s been existing there for the last 8-10 years.
Who has influenced you the most in your life, and why?
My wife, Barbara, whose parents were farm workers. She went on to become the first woman Presiding Judge in Maricopa County, the first Latina, and the first and only person of color. I was raised in an upper middle class family, so she inspires me every day to go out and fight for every day Arizonans.
What would you like to be known for in the history books?
That I put country and community over self.
What is your vision for Arizona?
I want to make Arizona the solar capital of the world, which will result in cleaner air, sustainable water, healthier communities, and good paying jobs throughout Arizona.
Every citizen, whether they’re a Democrat, Republican, or Independent should be concerned about the undue influence the utilities have on the Corporation Commission. It is led to those unjustified nonstop rate increases and a crushing of rooftop solar. If the Solar Team is elected, we will put a stop to that influence.Bill Mundell