Today's issue in Arizona: Should our public utility be required to provide line extensions to new homes "for free" (meaning paid for by existing rate payers) or should homebuilders, developers, and home buyers have to pay the real marginal cost of their utility infrastructure.
It is another of those subsidy issues where "visible" jobs (ie jobs in new home construction) are held out as justification, while "invisible job losses (ie from higher electricity rates to existing customers) are not even mentioned.
One of the biggest sticking points in the case is whether it is fairer to charge new developments the cost of new lines or simply charge the existing 1.1 million APS customers higher monthly rates to fund free lines.
Proponents of free lines said it would only cost customers 80 cents a month for APS to reinstate free lines, but APS officials said that if growth picks up as the economy recovers, customers could be charged an average of $45 a year to fund free lines.
Why is this even a point of discussion? A small group of people are attempting to make the majority buy them some goodies. The argument, as always, is that when the price of these goodies is spread across lots of people, its not really very much per person. It is almost as if the rest of us are being made to feel churlish for not agreeing to fund their next housing development.
I am far, far, far from being an anti-growth guy. But I agree with the anti-growth guys in one respect - it is perfectly reasonable for new developments to pay for the full incremental infrastructure cost of their development.