SAN TAN VALLEY — EPCOR, interim manager of Johnson Utilities, is attempting to gain control of the messages JU is sending to customers.
JU has released messages to the media and posted messages on its Facebook page in the past month without EPCOR’s knowledge or approval, EPCOR told customers in a letter dated April 15.
“At the request of the ACC (Arizona Corporation Commission), we’ve communicated with the owners of Johnson Utilities and other interested parties that EPCOR should review and approve all media messages and customer communications in the future,” EPCOR said Monday. “We’re also putting guidelines in place to oversee customer communications for the Johnson Utilities website and billing system.”
EPCOR said while it strives for “consistent messaging there are some limitations on what EPCOR can do legally. We cannot restrict use of the Johnson Utilities logo or letterhead, nor control the JU Facebook page, which is privately managed.”
A post on Monday signed by George Johnson, headlined “Owner Update,” said EPCOR and JU ownership are “working collaboratively to continue moving forward on the planned improvements,” although there are some issues that fall solely to JU ownership and are not the responsibility of EPCOR.
The post also included an explanation of why JU opposes a water interconnection with the town of Queen Creek, and a defense of JU’s rates as “in the ‘middle of the pack’ of other similar utility companies.”
A March 15 JU press release also discussed water interconnection with Queen Creek, and asked, “Does Queen Creek have the capacity to provide water to another utility when it doesn’t have the 100-year water supply for its own future growth?”
A March 6 JU press release headline asked, “Is Queen Creek Trying to Backdoor a San Tan Valley Annexation?” and continued, “Time’s Up on the Scheme to Usurp Johnson Utility Customers.”
The release claimed, “The town of Queen Creek has been on a systematic path over the last two years to take over Johnson Utilities service area near its borders by any means necessary, including through dubious business practices, misleading regulators and customers, and now outright poaching. Are these underhanded ploys a road to annexation?”