Commissioners’ Decision in Southwest Gas Rate Case is a Victory for Arizona Consumers and Competitiveness

I’ve said it before: Politics matter.

It’s no coincidence that Arizona is at the top of nearly every major ranking of economic competitiveness, performance, and prospects.

For the past decade, Arizona’s leaders have worked to advance pro-growth free market reforms that have resulted in one of the most attractive tax and regulatory environments in the country. And job creators have taken note.

Now is the time to look to the future of Arizona, and our future depends on good policy. Looking ahead, we must remain focused on pursuing the types of policies that will continue to fuel Arizona’s growth and give us a competitive advantage in the global economy. If we are to succeed, ensuring a strong and modern energy infrastructure must be one of our top priorities.

Too often, out-of-state special interests seek to impose their own agendas on Arizona, to the detriment of our job creators, consumers, and economy. That was certainly the goal in Southwest Gas’ recent rate case before the Arizona Corporation Commission, where a group of natural gas opponents known as the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project, or SWEEP, tried to block the rate proposal. responsible for the company in favor of its own energy policies.

If successful, these efforts would have limited natural gas development in our state and led to fewer energy options and higher costs for Arizona consumers. The Commission did the right thing by accepting the administrative law judge’s findings in the case and siding with Arizona businesses and households that depend on the availability of a robust, reliable, and affordable natural gas system.

The importance of a diverse energy mix to our state’s economy cannot be overstated. More than a third of the country’s power plants run on natural gas. Almost every industry, whether it’s manufacturing, tourism, healthcare, restaurants, or agribusiness, depends on natural gas. All of these industries create thousands of jobs and improve the quality of life across the state, contributing to the strong and growing economy we enjoy today.

Of course, Arizona will only remain competitive and attractive to these industries as long as we are able to offer the variety of affordable energy sources that employers demand, including and especially natural gas.

There’s a reason we’ve been successful in driving new business to our state. Job creators are flocking to Arizona because we are not California or Texas, where summer blackouts and winter power grid failures cause uncertainty for employers and rate spikes for customers. Why would we want to risk adopting the same policies that are causing other states to lose business?

Fortunately, the commissioners’ decision in this case ensures that will not happen. They should be applauded. But that doesn’t mean out-of-state interest groups won’t keep trying, they inevitably will. But the Arizona Chamber and the business community at large are committed to ensuring a safe and modern natural gas distribution system that will keep rates affordable for customers and foster greater economic growth. And we will continue to fight for the policies that make it happen.

Danny Seiden is President and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry.