Arizona Supreme Court Finds Corporation Commission Has Authority To Appoint Interim Manager

The facade of the Arizona State Courts Building. (Photo by Kevin Bondelli/Creative Commons)

PHOENIX — The Arizona Supreme Court has affirmed the Corporation Commission’s constitutional authority to appoint an interim manager for Johnson Utilities.

Corporation Commission Chairman Bob Burns said the Court’s decision recognizes the “Commission’s authority to act and to protect the public from utility operations that pose a risk to the public health and safety of Arizonans statewide.”

Johnson Utilities has been shrouded in controversy since at least 2010.

In 2018, the Commission began receiving numerous complaints from Johnson Utilities customers regarding water quality and billing issues. In response, the Commission appointed an interim manager.

The Commission found evidence that showed that Johnson Utilities operations were a threat to public health and safety. That evidence, put forth at an evidentiary hearing included the utility’s numerous public health violations. Among the violations was the release of over 400,000 gallons of raw sewage between 2010 and 2018.

Johnson Utilities launched a series of lawsuits aimed at challenging the Commission’s constitutional authority to appoint an interim manager. The Arizona Supreme Court rebuffed Johnson’s challenge and upheld the Commission’s appointment of an interim manager.

In 2019, Johnson Utilities served approximately 28,392 water customers and 39,230 wastewater customers.

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