I have been following the discussion of the pros and cons of Proposition 434, regarding the renewal of the franchise agreement with UniSource, and have a couple of issues with positions taken by some.
First, it is urged that the proposition be rejected, and the city and UniSource be directed to renegotiate the franchise fee. My concern is that the city has little bargaining room, given the terms of ection 8.5 of the draft ordinance. That provision creates (or likely continues) a “most favored nation” provision, which affects an automatic increase of the franchise fee in the event another municipality in the state gets a higher rate. Hence, UniSource is not likely to budge from its position, as an increase in the fee for the several thousand customers in Flagstaff would also cause a corresponding increase for the likely millions of other customers in the Valley and Tucson. Let Phoenix negotiate for us.
Second, I have seen comments suggesting that the agreement be abandoned since the future will see a global adoption of electricity -- and specifically renewal energy -- as a substitute for natural gas. While it’s a noble aspiration, this ignores the fact that the vast majority of existing homes and businesses are presently using gas for heating and cooking, etc. As there is no requirement for the volume of gas to be used within the city be at a minimum level, the use of electricity/renewable energy in new construction is not impacted by the ordinance.