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Lawmakers might stop competition in Arizona's energy market. That's led to some unusual coalitions

Arizona law currently allows for energy competition, even though the state hasn’t moved into that market. But state lawmakers are debating a proposal that would, among other provisions, remove the ability of other energy providers to come into the state and compete for customers with utilities like Arizona Public Service, Salt River Project and Tucson Electric Power.

The House and Senate have considered identical versions, allowing for a fast-tracking of sorts, but each chamber has voted the proposal down. In the House, it failed on a 26-29 vote before being reconsidered and passing by a vote of 37-21. None of the lawmakers who changed their votes have explained their reasoning. On March 8, the Senate defeated the bill on a 14-13 vote, but its sponsor says she’ll bring it back for another vote, as well.

The bills in the House and Senate have created some interesting coalitions. Both Democrats and Republicans have supported and opposed them. Other supporters have included the Arizona Public Interest Research Group and National Federation of Independent Business, while other critics have included groups like the Arizona Free Enterprise Club and the Sierra Club. 

To learn about this proposal, The Show heard from a two perspectives.

Karen Lusson is a staff attorney in the energy and utilities unit at the National Consumer Law Center, which works with lower-income residents. She supports the bill, and The Show spoke with her to learn why.

On the other side, Court Rich opposes the measures. He’s co-founder of the Rose Law Group in Scottsdale, where he heads up its renewable energy and regulatory practice. When The Show spoke with him about why he thinks this is a bad idea.

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Mark Brodie is a co-host of The Show, KJZZ’s locally produced news magazine. Since starting at KJZZ in 2002, Brodie has been a host, reporter and producer, including several years covering the Arizona Legislature, based at the Capitol.