Arizona

The commissioners’ decision in the Southwest Gas Rate case is a win for Arizona consumers who are more competitive

I’ve said it before: politics is important.

It’s no coincidence that Arizona tops nearly every major ranking of economic competitiveness, performance and prospects.

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

Now it’s time to look to Arizona’s future — and our future depends on good politics. Looking ahead, we must remain focused on pursuing the kind of policies that will continue to propel Arizona’s growth and give us a competitive advantage in the global economy. If we are to be successful, ensuring a strong and modern energy infrastructure must be one of our highest priorities.

All too often, special interests outside of the state try to impose their own goals on Arizona, to the detriment of our job creators, consumers, and the economy. That was certainly the aim in the recent Southwest Gas price case before the Arizona Corporation Commission, where a group of natural gas opponents known as the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project, or SWEEP, attempted to block the company’s responsible pricing proposal in favor of its own damaging energy policies.

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

The importance of a diverse energy mix for our national economy cannot be overestimated. More than a third of the country’s power plants run on natural gas. Almost every industry – whether manufacturing, tourism, healthcare, restaurants or agribusiness – depends on natural gas. These industries all create thousands of jobs and improve the quality of life across the state and contribute 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 supply the variety of affordable energy sources that employers are demanding – including and especially natural gas.

There’s a reason we’ve been successful in driving new businesses into our state. Job creators are flocking to Arizona because we’re not California or Texas, where summer power outages and winter grid outages create uncertainty for employers and price spikes for customers. Why should we risk adopting the same policies that are causing other states to lose business?

Fortunately, the Commissioners’ decision in this case ensures that that does not happen. They should be applauded. But that doesn’t mean that extrastate interest groups won’t keep trying — they inevitably will. But the Arizona Chamber and the broader business community are committed to ensuring a modern and secure natural gas distribution system that keeps prices affordable for customers and encourages continued economic growth. And we will continue to fight for the policies that make this possible.

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

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