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Today, the Salt River Project Board of Directors voted to support the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee with $1 million. The Arizona PIRG Education Fund and ratepayers had urged members of the SRP Board to vote “no.”
According to the Arizona PIRG Education Fund, SRP’s decision is a bad use of ratepayer dollars. Diane E. Brown, Executive Director of the Arizona PIRG Education Fund, said: “While we are excited for Arizona to host the Super Bowl, SRP should not be spending customer’s money on an advertising campaign that does not improve energy efficiency and ways to save customers’ money. SRP customers, especially after facing a recent rate hike, must be wondering if SRP truly has their best interests in mind.”
Last Thursday, Brown spoke before SRP’s Community Relations Committee meeting and urged SRP not to spend ratepayer money in ways that do not directly benefit their consumers. Brown said, “SRP should only use ratepayer money to promote outreach where there is a direct relationship to the utility’s purpose, and preferably where customers can also enjoy cost savings on their monthly bills, such as through energy efficiency programs.”
The Arizona PIRG Education Fund had urged SRP to vote “no” for three primary reasons. According to the group:
- $1 million to the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee doesn’t fit SRP’s stated purpose. SRP’s purpose statement is “SRP delivers high-value electricity and water for the benefit of our customers, shareholders and the communities we serve.” Brown said, “When SRP promotes the Super Bowl, the arts or human services, no matter how valiant the program, the correlation to the purpose of providing electricity and water fails to exist and ratepayers are left with a tab they didn’t order.”
- SRP is not in competition with other utilities therefore it doesn’t need to self-promote at the Super Bowl. In testimony before the SRP Board today, the Arizona PIRG Education Fund pointed out that SRP doesn’t compete against other utilities the way fast food restaurants or financial institutions compete against one another. When it comes to who provides one’s electricity in Arizona, it depends on where you live, not necessarily where you can get the best deal. Therefore, the Arizona PIRG Education Fund said it is unnecessary and a waste of ratepayer money for SRP to advertise just to become a more popular entity. The group would like to see SRP putting more money into energy efficiency and efforts that promote lower bills instead of spending money to promote their image.
- Advertising at the Super Bowl is likely not among the most effective and efficient use of ratepayer dollars to meet SRP’s energy efficiency and renewable energy goals. While the Arizona PIRG Education Fund doesn’t dispute the visibility and economic benefits the 2015 Super Bowl is expected bring to Arizona, Brown pointed out that “SRP has provided no evidence that a $1 million expenditure for the Super Bowl will benefit energy efficiency and renewable energy programs more than through other efforts.”
The group had also reminded the Board of the affects SRP customers are experiencing due to their recent rate hike. During the rate hike proceedings, SRP heard directly and in writing from customers who struggle to pay their monthly electric bill.
The Arizona PIRG Education Fund said that SRP ratepayers would benefit from a resource planning process, which could and should lead to investments more advantageous to the monthly bills of residential and business customers, than promoting the Super Bowl.
Brown concluded, “Making a $1 million decision with ratepayer money in five business days, particularly during a time when many individuals are out-of-town or off work, is not only rushed but unwarranted since there is not an impending deadline by which a determination needs to be made.” The Arizona PIRG Education Fund plans to continue advocating for changes to SRP operations.
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