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Suit asks Ariz. regulator to recuse self from proceeding over alleged APS bias

An Arizona Public Service Co. customer has filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona demanding Arizona Corporation Commissioner Andy Tobin recuse himself from a pending complaint before the commission that asks for a rehearing of the Pinnacle West Capital Corp. subsidiary's 2017 rate increase on grounds of overbilling.

The plaintiff, Warren Woodward of Sedona, Ariz., alleges Tobin has shown a "constitutionally impermissible level of bias" toward APS, depriving him of due process in the complaint before the commission, filed in January by another customer along with a petition signed by more than 400 APS customers. As part of the regulatory proceeding, APS said 182,533 customers have experienced an average bill increase of 10% or higher.

Woodward has also asked Tobin to recuse himself through that docket.

Echoing comments made by Commissioner-elect Sandra Kennedy in an Oct. 30 letter to the commission, Woodward alleges Tobin has violated so-called ex-parte rules on communications with the regulated utility that "reveal a pattern of bias."

The suit, served to Tobin on Dec. 20, came just days after an Arizona state court denied Commissioner Bob Burns' bid to investigate whether any of his fellow commissioners, including Tobin, were biased in backing the rate boost. (E-01345A-180002)