Lea Márquez Peterson Passes First Amendment to Reduce Rate Hikes for Rural Customers

PHOENIX — Arizona Corporation Commission Commissioner Lea Márquez Peterson voted in favor of gradualism and consumer protection on Tuesday, proposing and passing an amendment that reduced emergency surcharges for customers of a small water company in Eastern Arizona.

Lord Arizona Water Systems, Inc. provides water to approximately 382 customers near Vernon, Arizona, which is approximately 19 miles east of Show Low. The company sought Commissioner approval Tuesday for an emergency surcharge to pay for system repairs and employee salaries.

The Arizona Corporation Commission voted unanimously to pass Márquez Peterson's amendment, which lowered the amount of a recommended emergency surcharge from $16.14 per customer per month to $10.76 per customer per month, saving customers over 33 percent on the amount of the recommended increase.

Without Márquez Peterson's amendment, average residential customers would have seen an increase to monthly bills of as much as 54 percent, while the 2016 median household income for customers in the area is less than $35,000.

"This is a low-income community," said Márquez Peterson. "The amount was too high and would have caused extreme rate shock for the customers. My amendment was to prevent this by reducing the overall increase and spreading it out over a longer period."

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Mike Foster