PHOENIX — The Arizona Corporation Commission has postponed the evidentiary hearing in a Pinal County utility case regarding billing and water quality issues until April 16.
As of the start of the hearing for Johnson Utilities Thursday, only one person had successfully completed the process to become an intervener in the case, and two people had begun the process but not completed it. Many people had expressed interest in becoming interveners in the case but were held back by the process and were not able to complete it by deadline.
This included Pinal County, even though the Board of Supervisors had passed a motion in February to intervene in the rate case. Supervisor Mike Goodman, R-San Tan Valley, spoke in the public comment period and thanked the commissioners for extending the deadline and hearing so that more citizens could intervene.
Commissioner Andy Tobin told Goodman that he found it “odd” that the county had not intervened and asked him to explain. Goodman said officials were “unaware” of the deadline and cited unspecified internal issues that were being worked out.
Anyone who will be substantially and directly affected by the outcome of a case can become an intervener, which includes utility customers.
Becoming an intervener makes someone a party to the case, which comes with rights and responsibilities. Interveners have the right to participate in discovery and present evidence in the form of witnesses, documents and testimony and to cross-examine other witnesses.
This creates the responsibility to participate in all proceedings (in some circumstances this can be done telephonically) and have their evidence and testimony subject to cross-examination.
The most important difference between public comment and intervening is that in public comment, while a person’s comment is considered, it is not entered into the record as evidence, and it is not awarded the weight of sworn testimony, since a person making public comment is not under oath or subject to cross-examination.
The town of Florence will seek the right to offer input on the Arizona Corporation Commission’s inquiries into Johnson Utilities, following the Town Council’s action Monday.
The council authorized the town manager and town attorney to file a “motion to intervene” in the case. Florence residents who live in Anthem at Merrill Ranch receive Johnson Utilities water and wastewater service.
To intervene, anyone interested must file a written request. More information about how to intervene can be found here.