- Associated Press - Saturday, March 18, 2017

PHOENIX (AP) - Officials with Arizona’s largest electric utility say they’ll freely and publicly spend money on political races.

Through its parent company, Arizona Public Service Co. announced Friday it will continue to involve itself in political campaigns, including those for people who will regulate the company.

It also will report political contributions every March.

Pinnacle West Capital Corp. owns APS, a regulated utility that serves 1.2 million residential and commercial customers in 11 of 15 Arizona counties.

A policy statement from Pinnacle West said “we have the responsibility to our customers, communities and shareholders to participate in the political process, when appropriate, so that our perspectives are heard and so that we can develop productive working relationships with governmental decision makers.”

APS officials said they were making the policy public to increase transparency.

“This voluntary report goes beyond our legal requirements to provide additional information about our contributions,” APS spokeswoman Anna Stewart said. “Pinnacle West supports organizations and issues that further our mission of creating a sustainable energy future for Arizona.”

Some critics of APS don’t like the new policy.

Arizona Corporation Commissioner Robert Burns is suing APS, Pinnacle West and its CEO to enforce subpoenas related to money spent on elections.

Others said the utility should not be involved in commission elections at all.

APS should be ashamed of itself that it feels the need to buy elections of a commission that regulates them,” Tom Chabin, who unsuccessfully ran for a commission seat last year, told The Arizona Republic. “No other private utility in the state of Arizona participates in commission campaigns. That is the standard APS should live by.”

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