Letter to Residents regarding Electrical Service in Whispering Ranch.
For the past three or four years, there have been a number of individual attempts to get the attention of Arizona Public Service to see if there was any planning for a power grid to serve the Whispering Ranch area. And if not, why not? Here is a short recap from our perspective of what has happened.
January 2006 – there was an informal meeting with APS representatives at Whispering Ranch, and they led us to believe that they would be conducting a study into the feasibility and cost of bringing power to the area. They indicated they would perform the study and have conclusions in about a year.
January 2007 – follow up calls to APS revealed they were not moving forward with any studies other than to provide a cost estimate to run existing power from the current service location toward the north end of Whispering Ranch. They are willing to provide power if you are willing to bear the entire cost of bringing power to your site. But the cost of going under the SRP transmission lines at Dove Valley Road created another cost issue. And without bringing in additional power lines to increase capacity of the existing system (more capital investment on their part), which would require a substation in the area (again, more capital investment on their part) they were not considering a power grid for the Whispering Ranch area.
March 2007 – At an open meeting under a tent at 299th and Patton Road, attended by about 200 to 300 interested parties, speakers from Maricopa County Department of Transportation (McDOT), Arizona Public Service (APS) and Accipiter Communications each had their turn to present their positions and answer questions from the attendees. McDOT is moving forward with the planning for the Jomax/Patton Road study to widen and improve the roadway, though a final alignment was not selected, as they are awaiting the Hassayampa Study to be completed. Accipiter Communications is moving forward with their planning the infrastructure to bring telephone and fiber optic cable service into the area. APS indicated that they are not doing any studies, nor are they planning any work in the Whispering Ranch area for the foreseeable future. They are planning to expand service in Douglas Ranch and Festival Ranch as well as other areas since the return on investment will be quicker in those areas. When I spoke to the attendees at the meeting, I was asked what could be done to get some movement on this issue, and I responded that I felt it would probably take some form of political action to start making headway. I suggested that contacting the members of the Arizona Corporation Commission (the regulatory agency that oversees Public Utilities in Arizona) to make our requests for power heard.
June 2007 – The Arizona Corporation Commission held an open meeting regarding the request from Arizona Public Service for a rate hike. Buried deep within the Rate Hike request was also a clause that would eliminate the “1000 Foot Free Zone” that has been in place for years as an incentive for owners to bring power to their property when they build a home. The rationale that APS was using was that ‘developers’ were taking advantage of this “1000 Foot Free Zone” and it was costing them a lot of money. When I spoke at this meeting, I raised the issue that there needs to be a distinction between “developers” and “citizens”, the latter being the group that the Corporation Commission is supposed to be protecting. And Commissioner Kristin Mayes was interested in exploring this further. To take this exemption away from “citizens” would cause a whole lot of financial hardship, especially in Whispering Ranch. The vote was to eliminate this “1000 foot free zone” but to allow exemptions under certain circumstances. We were very vocal in stating that Whispering Ranch should be considered for this exemption. What happened is that we now have the attention of the Corporation Commission and are working to see what can be done toward the goal of providing power to Whispering Ranch.
Since the June meeting, we have been in touch with Commissioner Kristin Mayes at the Arizona Corporation Commission. She has contacted members of Arizona Public Service and they have put us in contact with their Consumer Affairs Advocate, and we are now have a couple of contact points where we can make our voices heard.
Thus the reason for this newsletter. We are now working to assemble interested parties to see what can be done to let APS and the Corporation Commission know that there is a need for this to happen. It won’t happen right away, this may take years. But we need your help. The help we need is for you to indicate your support toward the goal of having some form of a power grid in Whispering Ranch.
Arizona Public Service is taking the position that they would like to hear from you if you would like power to your property. But they want to make sure that you are;
In any event, a call to the contacts listed at the end of this letter will help toward the goal of demonstrating that there is a need for electrical service in “The Ranch”.
Even if you are not in a position to accept power if it were available or if you don’t have the funds available to bring power to your property, consider this – the price difference between a parcel that has access to power and a parcel that does not have access to power is between $25,000 to $30,000 – and that is in today’s market. Once this stagnant market improves, this spread may be an even larger number. Just the fact that property values are higher when there is access to power should be well worth the time it takes for you to make a phone call, send an e-mail or the cost of a stamp to send in the response on the last page of this communication. After all, we will all benefit from increased values and the additional building that will occur when power does finally arrive.
There will be power in Whispering Ranch sooner or later. This effort is being undertaken to try to advance this issue so that it happens sooner.
Our group is simply an informal assembly of five property owners who are interested in doing what we can to get the attention of our elected representatives and the power company toward this goal. At the Rate Hike hearing there were only five of us who own property out in Whispering Ranch in attendance to voice our objection to the elimination of the “1000 Foot Free Zone”. None of us are residents in Whispering Ranch, but we all see what the future holds for this entire area. I would consider a future home in Whispering Ranch, but being 4 to 5 miles from power is a major stumbling block. So I agreed to help by getting involved in this movement. Maybe in a couple of years there will be power there where I want to build.
This group doesn’t have a name, or any formal structure, though this may come to pass if we can stir up enough ground roots support for this idea. Once we start making calls to make our voice heard, we will see if further organization is necessary.
Communicate back to me with your thoughts.
Joe Liberty, Associate Broker Office Phone: 623-344-4000
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage Office Fax: 623-344-4111
3050 W. Agua Fria Freeway, Suite #110 E-Mail: Joe.Liberty@AZMoves.com
Phoenix, Arizona 85027 Web Presence: www.JoeLiberty.com
Our position is that under the Rural Electrification Act, every occupied property is entitled to electrical service. There is no reason why Whispering Ranch can’t have electrical service, there just never has been enough citizen support to demonstrate the demand for this service. So we are moving forward with a couple of different approaches.
Our first approach is to see who has let Whispering Ranch fall into the cracks in the past years, and see if we can get them moving toward correcting the problem. So we are not attacking APS or the Corporation Commission. We don’t know who specifically has been at fault for not addressing these issues. APS has to operate like any other business, and expending a lot of capital in an area where there won’t be a return on investment doesn’t make any sense. Nor will the Corporation Commission allow Urban rate payers to subsidize rural improvements. We are trying to find that balance. But there has not been enough demand from the ‘citizens’ to get the necessary attention to keep the issue alive. We can now get some action if we are vocal in our requests. We are also trying to get to the root of the problem. And in order to keep the attention of APS and the Corporation Commission it won’t hurt to express our requests for power to both of these entities.
Another approach is to see if there is another Rural Electrical Service Provider who can come in to the Whispering Ranch area and Provide Service. This might require forming a Cooperative and then requesting funds from the government to get service. This would happen in the event APS continues to be unwilling to support efforts to bring power to the area. So we are exploring this possibility as well. This is not the best option, but we need to look at all alternatives.
Or, are there funds available from any of the Power companies (APS or SRP) that could help the area develop into a “Green” community where we use solar and wind to generate the power we need to be independent from the traditional power grid system. There are funds available to help homeowners reduce their dependence on traditional power systems and hopefully reduce demand on the power companies. This is a narrower approach to the problem, but it needs to be explored as well.
In any event, this is where we need your help. Please take a minute to make at least one phone call and make your position heard. Please keep records of you conversations, copies of any letters you might send or receive and copies of any e-mails. We want to demonstrate that the citizens are requesting a service that they are entitled to receive, but that for some reason these requests had, in the past, not been addressed.
In future communications, I hope we can have a phone number so you can contact us directly, possibly a web site to keep you updated on what’s happening, and hopefully a person who will act as our “point man” – but we are not there yet. In the next week or two, this information will also be posted on my web site. I will create a link for “Whispering Ranch Power Information” so you can get the information out to others who might be interested in joining in this movement. Until then, just make your voice heard.
Arizona Public Service Company Contact Information:
Angela Allison Phone: (602) 250-2280
Arizona Public Service E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Senior Consumer Advocate
Arizona Corporation Commission Contact Information:
Arizona Corporation Commission
1200 West Washington Street – 2nd Floor
Phoenix, Arizona 85007
Commissioner Kristin Mayes Phone: (602) 542-4143 E-Mail: email@example.com
Commissioner William Mundell Phone: (602) 542-3935 E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mike Gleason - Chairman Phone: (602) 542-3682 E-Mail: email@example.com
Commissioner Jeff Hatch-Miller Phone: (602) 542-3625 E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Commissioner Gary Pierce Phone: (602) 542-3933 E-Mail: email@example.com
If you can make a phone call, the three lines in the area below give all the information that you need to provide at this point. If you want to ask specific questions, feel free to do so.
If you decide to send an e-mail, the information shown below is all the information that needs to be provided at the outset.
And if you don’t want to call or e-mail, you can just fill out the information below, clip it out and send it to either APS or to the Corporation Commission.
Keep track of any responses you might get after you make these calls and we’ll keep you posted of happenings on our end as well.
(Cut here to mail this form)
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As a Resident of Whispering Ranch, I want my voice to be heard on the issue of bringing electrical service to the area.
I am in favor of moving toward the goal of bringing power to this area. Please keep me informed of all meetings that may have any effect on reaching this goal.
Thank you for your assistance and consideration in this matter.
Name: Phone number:
City, State, Zip: