For Immediate Release | 6-28-19
Media Contact | Holly Ward
Direct | 602-542-3847
Email | firstname.lastname@example.org
News Release: From the Office of Commissioner Lea Márquez Peterson
Lea Márquez Peterson Meets with the Water Utility Association of Arizona
TUCSON — Arizona Corporation Commission Commissioner Lea Márquez Peterson met with the Water Utility Association of Arizona Monday to learn about Arizona’s private small water companies and the unique challenges they face delivering safe, reliable, and affordable water to rural Arizonans.
The Arizona Corporation Commission regulates nearly 250 water companies throughout the state, many of which serve under 1,000 residential customers and are located in remote and unincorporated areas of Arizona. Average monthly bills can range anywhere from $5 to $109 per month, with 33 water companies having average monthly rates below $18 per month and 17 companies above $66 per month.
“It is vital for these rural utility companies, and the customers that they serve, have an active voice in the discussions about the state’s water policies," said Ray Jones, executive director of the Water Utilities Association of Arizona. “While large companies such as EPCOR, Arizona Water, Liberty Utilities, Global Water, and Johnson Utilities make the most headlines, it’s the small water companies that make some of your most meaningful decisions.”
Commissioner Márquez Peterson agreed with Jones echoing the need to amplify that voice on behalf of Arizona’s small water customers and operators.
As the Executive Director of the state's largest association of regulated water companies, Ray Jones often appears before the Commission and helps weigh the need to make responsible water investments with the need to keep rates low for rural Arizonans, explaining that small water companies often face unique infrastructural, financial, and regulatory challenges that large regulated utilities do not.
Commissioner Márquez Peterson said she is willing to tackle the issues head-on. “Finding a balance between keeping small water companies solvent and not inundating them with regulatory burdens appears to be a critical part of being an effective Commissioner that I hope I can emulate, as other Commissioners have done before me,” she said.
Commissioner Peterson’s predecessor, Andy Tobin, often traveled to small water communities to hold town halls and formal hearings where customers lived or would be affected by the Commission’s decisions. This increased accessibility between rural communities and Commissioners, with Commissioner Tobin attending multiple Open Meetings remotely, including from Yuma, Kingman, Window Rock, Casa Grande, Safford, San Tan Valley, Payson, and Ajo.
While Commissioner Peterson has her own regulatory approach and priorities, she emphasized that the Commission should not forget about Arizona’s rural water communities just because one commissioner leaves the Commission.
“I appreciate Ray Jones for his time and look forward to gaining a greater understanding of the state-wide perspective of this office and of the many small water companies it regulates,” said Commissioner Peterson.
Commissioner Peterson says she will make her office available to all small water customers and encourages any small water customer to contact her office directly with questions or concerns by phone at 602-542-3625 or by email email@example.com.
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About Commissioner Lea Márquez Peterson, MBA, IOM:
Commissioner Lea Márquez Peterson was appointed to the Arizona Corporation Commission by Governor Doug Ducey in May of 2019. She is the first Latina to serve in a statewide seat in the state of Arizona.
Lea has been an entrepreneur in our community for many years and served as the President/ CEO of the Tucson Hispanic Chamber from 2009 until November of 2018. The Tucson Hispanic Chamber serves the business community in the bilingual, bi-cultural region of the Arizona-Sonora border and was recognized as the Hispanic Chamber of the Year in 2013 by the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. The chamber represents over 1800-member businesses and in partnership with the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry is one of the largest chambers in the State of Arizona.
She ran for Congress in Arizona Congressional District 2 in 2018 and won a competitive primary race though lost the general election. She previously served as the Executive Director for Greater Tucson Leadership (GTL) from 2005 to 2009 and owned and operated a Business Brokerage Firm from 2005 to 2009 and a chain of six gasoline stations / convenience stores with 50 employees from 1998 to 2005 in the Tucson region.
Lea has been appointed to serve on the Arizona Judicial Council which advises the Arizona Supreme Court and the Arizona Finance Authority, the state’s bonding authority. She chairs the Board of Directors of Carondelet’s St Mary’s and St Joseph’s Hospitals in Tucson and is the former Chair of the Pima Association of Governments’ Economic Vitality Committee. She serves on the Boards of the University of Arizona Foundation and the Pima County Workforce Investment Board and is the President of the National Association of Women Business Owners in Tucson. She also serves on the national board for the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
She received her undergraduate degrees in Marketing and Entrepreneurship from the University of Arizona, and her Master of Business Administration from Pepperdine University. She is married with two children.
The Arizona Corporation Commission was established by the state’s constitution to regulate public utilities and business incorporation. The Corporation Commission is Arizona’s co-equal, fourth branch of government. The five Commissioners elected to the Corporation Commission oversee executive, legislative, and judicial proceedings on behalf of Arizonans when it comes to their water, electricity, telephone, and natural gas resources as well as the regulation of securities, pipeline, and railroad safety. To learn more about the Arizona Corporation Commission and its Commissioners, visit http://azcc.gov.