Lauren Kuby, a councilwoman of Tempe City Council and Democratic candidate for the Arizona Corporation Commission, visited ASU Young Democrats Friday to discuss her political future and ambitions to address climate action, sustainability and equity during the club's general meeting.
The Corporation Commission works to regulate and set rates with Arizona Public Service and other privately owned utility companies. The current leadership consists of three Republicans and two Democrats, something she hopes to change in order to achieve her goals.
Kuby said being elected, which would give the ACC a Democratic majority, would help it pass policies that work toward "climate justice."
The Commission's currently proposed standard is to have companies provide their electricity completely carbon-free by 2070. APS also plans to provide 65% of its energy carbon-free by 2030, with a goal of making it completely carbon-free by 2050.
Kuby described "goals" previously proposed by a commissioner as "misguided." She said the state needs to improve its standards to provide electricity 100% carbon-free by 2030, and students are important to achieving that.
"It's important to get students involved in this race," Kuby said. "If you really care about clean energy and the future, we really need to change this commission."
In response to a student question about drought and limited water supplies, Kuby said the Commission's responsibility should be to make solutions to water issues "fair and equitable." The Commission regulates by setting rates for about 20 water and wastewater providers.
Kuby said she wanted Tempe's "first tier of water to be free – survival water – and build up from there."
Kuby also discussed the importance of rejecting "dark money." She plans on running a clean campaign using dollars from individuals rather than anonymous corporations. She said she prefers to spend more time with voters and less time with fundraisers.
Democratic Commissioner Sandra Kennedy opened an investigation into dark money's influence in ACC in 2019. It found APS had been financing political groups that helped elect two members of ACC who, in turn, set prices for APS customers.
"This commission has been corrupted," Kuby said. "Those regulated have been handpicking those regulating them."
Kuby looks forward to working closely with Kennedy, who she described as a "fierce icon."
"I'm in agreement with Anna (Tovar) and Sandra (Kennedy) on most issues," Kuby said. "We are building a three-woman Democratic majority: a Latina, an African American and a white suburban woman."
Members of the club were engaged with Kuby for the hour-long meeting, laughing at her jokes and asking questions about her anticipated run. Kuby was excited to be in the presence of students who are similarly passionate about climate and its regulation.
"I'm returning to my roots, it's about climate and energy and water," Kuby said. "I see this wonderful opportunity to gain this Democratic majority and to make a good change."
Clarification: This article was updated at 3:10 p.m. on Sept. 4, 2021, to clarify Kuby's goals and ACC's standards.
Continue supporting student journalism and donate to The State Press today.