Navajo Nation Speaker Johnny Naize is standing with President Ben Shelly to stand up for Navajo Generating Station.
Naize issued a press release this morning, Aug. 30, 2013, about his trip to the Arizona State Capital on Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2013, to tell several Arizona energy companies about the Navajo Nation’s opposition to the proposed deregulation of the electric market in Arizona.
According to Naize, like President Shelly, the Navajo Nation – which includes me and the rest of the 300,000 Navajo people, plus the water, air, Mother Earth, animals, insects, etc. – deregulation is bad for the Navajo Nation.
But the People were never asked about deregulation. And they were never educated about the pros and cons of deregulation. So who is Speaker Naize and President Shelly speaking for?
Naize told state representatives and energy business representatives that deregulation would threaten jobs at the Four Corners Power Plant, Navajo Generating Station, Peabody Coal Co., and the BHP Navajo Mine, which would also have a negative impact on border town economies.
“I truly believe what is good for the Navajo Nation is good for the state of Arizona, so I asked the Arizona Corporation Commission to carefully consider the Navajo Nation’s position,” said Speaker Naize.
Speaker Naize also pointed out that deregulation has proven to be unsuccessful in other states and has in fact resulted in higher utility costs for consumers in those states.
Naize failed to mention in his press release and probably his speech at the Arizona State Capital that the state’s deregulation plan derailed the Navajo Nation government’s plan to buy BHP Billiton’s coal mine near Farmington, N.M.
In a Tri-City Tribune news story about Arizona’s deregulation plans stalling BHP’s sale of its coal mine to the tribe, a New Mexico official had this to say: County CEO Kim Carpenter said he heard a “rumor” that if deregulation occurred the APS Four Corners Power Plant would shut down.
The sole customer for BHP’s coal mine is the Four Corners Power Plant.
Supporters of deregulation suggest that a free electric market would provide consumers with options for utility service which could possibly drive down the price of electricity for consumers.
According to a report by OpenSecrets.org, deregulation delivers and does not deliver lower prices for electricity. The bottom line is that it can work. The major question is how.
OpenSecret.org reported that whether or not electricity deregulation delivers the benefits touted by its supporters – including lower prices and more services – is an open question. Pennsylvania’s deregulation experiment, enacted in 1998, has been a rousing success by most accounts. Nearly 500,000 consumers – more than 11 percent of ratepayers – had chosen to leave their utility company as of Oct. 1999, reports The Washington Post. In the Philadelphia area, residential customers who chose the least-expensive electricity supplier were saving about $10 per month.
OpenSecret.org also reported that the story is much different in California, which in 1996 became one of the first states to enact an electricity restructuring plan. Not long after the plan went into effect, price increases began to whittle away public support for deregulation in the Golden State.