UES rate hike would send our cash to Canada (Guest Column)

UniSource Electric, our local energy supplier, wants to raise our electric bills substantially and CEO David Hutchens announced in a guest column that we should be confident that this rate increase would be our fair share.

What he did not tell you is that this so-called "fair share" increase goes to their foreign corporate profits in Canada.

UniSource Electric was sold to the Fortis Company, which has assets of $29 billion with annual revenue of $6.7 billion.

The sale of Unisource Electric was allowed by the elected officials of our Arizona Corporation Commission. As soon as Fortis took control, it dissolved all the stock of UniSource Electric and paid out everyone, including a majority of local Arizona stockholders. This made our local electric company controlled by a foreign corporation with no major local stockholder control that could be sensitive to our community's needs, including the needs of our elderly and young people starting out with new families.

Fortis Company notes in the vision statement, "Our growth in assets and market capitalization should be greater than the average ..." The Fortis growth rate is at 6.5 percent and expects 7.5 percent in the future.

I would add that they especially would get a growth increase if they get their unjustified rate increase. The national growth rate for our country's economy is currently around 2.5 percent.

No one wishes to deny corporations their due profit, but this request as explained by the CEO of UniSource gives only vague generalizations of what an electric company already does. He does not give any details that would be associated to a valid business plan for us to understand. He simply uses that famous corporate line for all of us to swallow, when we are really being given the shaft, "customers ... should be confident."

Here is what we community members and the Arizona Corporation Commissioners should pay attention to. The president and incoming CEO of Fortis company said this in the third quarter 2014 conference call meeting.

"We are capturing UNS (Unisource Electric) earnings earlier than expected, as well we believe that accretion and earnings per common share attributable to U.N.S. Energy, will surpass initial expectations." In other words, he is stating that they are making more money - more profit - than they expected. This proves they have no justification for a rate increase, because the CEO has stated they are already making more profit than "initial expectations."

Please attend the public meeting regarding this proposed rate hike. The meeting is from 1-3 p.m. Thursday in the County Administration Building; come in to express your concerns.

Also, note the time of the meeting is convenient for them and not us working people.

I have worked with the Arizona Corporation Commission in the past as an intervener on cases and have always found them to be reasonable. But if they do not hear from the public they will not know how you feel and will simply pass the request.

Besides requesting the Arizona Corporation Commission deny the rate increase to Unisource Electric, I also sternly request that the ACC require Unisource Electric be mandated to initiate energy efficiency measures that are meaningful and quantitative to prove results in helping consumers reduce their bills and reduce our community carbon footprint. Once Fortis Company and its subsidiary Unisource can prove good corporate stewardship instead of acting like the gluttonous corporation they have proven themselves to be, then in four years have them present a report on their success in energy efficiency and community cost reductions, as well as a detailed business plan for a possible rate increase. But truthfully, if they do their job correctly, a rate increase will never be justified.