Tuesday, March 21, 2023

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Texas lawmakers consider legislation to prevent cities from self-governance, Connecticut considers policy options to alleviate an eviction crisis, and Ohio residents await community water systems.

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Gov. Ron DeSantis breaks his silence on Trump's potential indictment and attacks Manhattan prosecutors, President Biden vetoes his first bill to protect socially conscious retirement investing, and the Supreme Court hears a case on Native American water rights.

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The 41st state has opted into Medicaid which could be a lifeline for rural hospitals in North Carolina, homelessness barely rose in the past two years but the work required to hold the numbers increased, and destruction of the "Sagebrush Sea" from Oregon to Wyoming is putting protection efforts for an itty-bitty bunny on the map.

Southwest Gas Seeks Rate Hike for AZ Customers

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Thursday, January 5, 2023   

Southwest Gas customers could pay higher utility bills if the Arizona Corporation Commission gives the green light to the utility's proposed rate hike Jan. 10.

If approved, customer bills would increase by almost $3 per month, to an average of almost $48, according to the utility. The 7.6% rate hike follows an almost 9.7% hike in 2020.

David Jenkins, president of Conservatives for Responsible Stewardship, said if the increase is approved, it could translate not only to higher gas bills but higher electric bills, as gas-fired plants help produce the state's energy.

"It's very tone-deaf for the industry -- at a time when the actual fuel prices have been fluctuating and have been very high this past year -- to ask for these kinds of big rate increases on the service side of their business," Jenkins argued.

In a statement, Southwest Gas said its proposal reflects "the costs to provide safe and reliable service to a growing Arizona," as well as recovering investments it's made in infrastructure. Jenkins sees it as helping the utility recover business costs, for which he believes customers should not have to foot the bill.

Jenkins noted because Southwest Gas is a monopoly and provides an essential service, Arizonans have no other option but to pay if the hike is approved. He understands the utility can charge to deliver service, but his group does not support customers paying for things which do not directly involve them.

Jenkins called the commission's decision "crucial," and said all eyes will be on incoming commissioners Kevin Thompson and Nick Meyers, who campaigned on being ratepayer advocates.

"How can you claim to be a 'ratepayer advocate' with a straight face and support a company being able to do this to its existing customers?" Jenkins asked. "That's not ratepayer advocacy, that's the swamp."

Jenkins believes Arizona should work to be less dependent on natural gas and aim to tap into other energy sources, like nuclear and solar, which he added would provide the state more immunity from fluctuating overseas markets.


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