Suit against SRP could set public records precedent 

By Nick Phillips | Arizona Capitol Times 

The Sierra Club is suing Salt River Project in a case that could lead to a legal precedent over SRP’s status regarding public records.

Since last year, the environmental group has asked SRP for several documents related to plans to expand its Coolidge Generating Station, a natural gas-powered electricity plant. SRP has turned some documents over, but refused to provide others, and hasn’t told the club everything it’s withholding, according to court documents.

Now, the Sierra Club is suing SRP to get the documents and to get some clarity on a question that the environmental group and the utility company have sparred over for years: is SRP a public entity, subject to Arizona’s Public Records Law?

Sandy Bahr, director of the Sierra Club Grand Canyon Chapter, said, “I think the court is making it clear to SRP that they need to provide this information – or be clear about why they aren’t (providing it) – is important precedent for the future and will make SRP more transparent and accountable to the public generally, which is what we want.” Chapter, said.

SRP argues that it has already “voluntarily provided incredible access to information,” including turning over more than 4,300 pages of documents to the Sierra Club, according to an emailed statement from spokeswoman Erica Roelfs.

And, Roelfs wrote, “SRP will continue to demonstrate its commitment to providing transparency into its resource planning efforts and hopes to move past unfounded accusations and work collaboratively with Sierra Club.”

At issue in the case filed June 2 is whether certain SRP documents are protected by exceptions to public records law, and whether SRP is subject to the state’s records law in general.

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