Cronkite News Service
ARIZONA CORPORATION COMMISSION
Cronkite News Service
PHOENIX – Republican Barry Wong says the six months he served on the Arizona Corporation Commission as an appointee of Gov. Janet Napolitano makes him uniquely qualified among those vying for three seats on the panel.
“I think my service on the commission gives me an advantage of understanding because I’ve been involved with every facet of commission work,” said Wong, a lawyer who represented north-central Phoenix in the House of Representatives from 1993-2000.
Napolitano appointed Wong in July 2006 to fill the remainder of Republican Marc Spitzer’s term after Spitzer took a job with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Wong was in the majority when the commission voted to require Arizona utilities to get 15 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2025.
Wong said his participation in hearings on matters such as utility rate increases and railroad regulation plus his work with the commission’s securities division helped him recognize issues that need to be addressed.
“That experience, on top of being a legislator, that Corporation Commission hands-on experience, gives me an advantage and a benefit that I can provide the citizens of this state as a public servant,” Wong said.
Wong said he wants to build on the commission’s renewable-energy requirement by advancing a diverse range of renewable sources. However, he said coal, natural gas and nuclear power remain an important part of Arizona’s energy portfolio.
“To have reliable energy and sufficient energy in this fast-growing state, we have to have a diverse mix of sources of power,” Wong said. “If we have a balance, then that’s not over-reliance on one source, which could cause reliability issues if there’s a breakdown or a shutdown of any one type of power.”
Wong said he wants to maintain close regulation of private water companies to ensure quality.
“When a fast-growing state is without energy or water, you’ll never be able to sustain the growth,” Wong said.
Wong said another major goal is combating investment fraud.
“We have to continue to work to shut down these investment-fraud lawbreakers and work with the community to educate the community not to buy into these schemes,” Wong said.
While he pledges to fight against excessive utility rate hikes, Wong said the commission’s current method for considering increases, which involves examining company financial and equipment records, works. He said he’d work to streamline the review process, possibly by hiring more staff.
But Wong said candidates for Corporation Commission need to have a perspective that encompasses more than just energy.
“I think those that are focusing just on solar are missing the point; the Corporation Commission is more than just solar and more than just energy, ” Wong said. “That’s one important facet of it, but it’s not limited to that.”
Professional experience: Lawyer, accountant, health-benefits company executive, Arizona State Senate staff.
Public service: Arizona State House of Representatives, 1993-2000; Arizona Corporation Commission, 2006 (appointed to complete the term of an outgoing commissioner).
Education: B.S. in accounting, Arizona State University; J.D., University of Arizona; Global Leadership Certificate, Thunderbird School of Global Management.