Vote slated to OK utilities for projects


KINGMAN, Ariz. -- The Arizona Corporation Commission next week will consider approvals of utility companies to serve two master-planned communities that Las Vegas developer Jim Rhodes intends to build in northwest Arizona.

An administrative law judge's recommended opinion and order approving the required certificates that Rhodes Homes Arizona applied for 31/2 years ago is set for a vote after a Dec. 16 hearing in Phoenix.

"We are extremely pleased and look forward to commission consideration on Dec. 16 and 17," Rhodes Homes Vice President Chris Stephens said.

The commission has been asked to approve "certificates of convenience and necessity" that would allow Perkins Mountain Water and Perkins Mountain Wastewater companies to provide water and wastewater service to master-planned communities proposed in Golden Valley and White Hills.

The Pravada project would involve construction of more than 25,000 homes and commercial development over more than 5,000 acres in Golden Valley.

Planning for Pravada is further ahead than the other projects.

Rhodes filed applications in July 2005 seeking the required certificates for the Perkins companies.

Scrutiny of the applications intensified in spring 2007 when commissioners focused on Rhodes' business and litigation history and his alleged violation of federal elections law through political campaign contributions.

Concern about Rhodes' ownership and involvement in the utilities serving his developments led to sale of the Perkins companies to Chicago-based Utilities Inc. in November 2007. That company owns and will operate the Perkins companies should the certificates be approved.

A key condition of the recommendation to approve the certificates is a requirement that a $500,000 line of credit or performance bond be established from which the commission could draw to protect customers if Rhodes fails to comply with state regulations. Another condition would prevent transfer of Utilities Inc. stock to Rhodes or his companies without commission approval.

Stephens said approval of the certificates would open the window for Rhodes to apply for an aquifer-protection permit from the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality. A water supply adequacy finding previously came from the Arizona Department of Water Resources.

Stephens said plat approvals from Mohave County are also necessary before Rhodes can begin building Pravada.

 

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