By Elizabeth Whitman | Phoenix New Times
Arizona’s three major utilities charge their customers for membership in secretive groups that lobby against federal regulations to protect public health.
Those groups are the Utility Water Act Group (UWAG) and the Utility Solid Waste Activities Group (USWAG). Utilities say that membership in these groups help them understand complex environmental regulations. But these decade-old groups have also lobbied fiercely in recent years against regulations aimed at protecting public health and the environment, such as clean water and coal-ash disposal rules.
Arizona Public Service, Salt River Project, and Tucson Electric Power are all members of the Utility Solid Waste Activities Group, spokespeople for those companies confirmed. USWAG is housed under the Edison Electric Institute, an industry association representing investor-owned utility groups.
Arizona Public Service and Salt River Project are both members of the Utility Water Act Group, run out of the law firm Hunton Andrews Kurth. Tucson Electric is not a member of the water group.
All three companies charge their customers for costs of membership in these groups, according to their respective spokespeople.