APS CEO Don Brandt Breaks Silence, Agrees to Appear Before Regulators

Arizona Public Service CEO Don Brandt
Arizona Public Service CEO Don Brandt YouTube
Arizona Public Service CEO Don Brandt agreed on Friday to appear before Arizona Corporation Commissioners and answer questions about how and when the state's largest utility cuts off power to its customers.

He just doesn't want to do it on the five commissioners' schedule.

The commissioners asked Brandt on July 19 to come before them on August 7 to answer a list of 67 questions about APS' shutoff policies, after the utility's disconnections were found to have contributed to customer deaths.

A week later, Brandt responded.

"I will make myself available to answer your questions and will bring with me the appropriate senior subject matter experts," he wrote. "I do, however, respectfully request additional time to fully prepare the answers to your extensive questions."

He offered to "make myself and my team available on a later date of your choosing."

Commissioners have not yet publicly responded to Brandt's request for an extension.

Friday's letter from Brandt marks the first time that this powerful executive has responded publicly since news broke in mid-June that 72-year-old Stephanie Pullman died in her home last September after APS shut off her power on a 107-degree day.

Calls immediately sounded for Brandt to be held accountable for her death. Arizona Republic columnist Laurie Roberts wrote that Brandt should lose his job over Pullman's death.

Brandt, who made $12 million last year and has described himself as "being the spokesperson, so to speak, for the company," stayed silent.

A week after that news emerged, Brandt received a prestigious award from the Arizona Chamber of Commerce recognizing his "accomplishments and commitment to Arizona."

Despite protests outside the Phoenix Art Museum as he was slated to receive the award, he issued no comment.

Earlier that day, a spokesperson and an attorney for APS avoided questions from 12 News reporter Joe Dana about why Brandt wasn't answering questions, even after he doggedly pursued them to their cars.

APS subsequently disclosed that in the last decade it had settled with the families of two other customers who died after their electricity was disconnected.

The commissioners' 67 questions to Brandt are extensive.

They cover APS' current shutoff procedures, practices, and protections; APS' reporting shutoff information to the CorpComm; and its rates. They also home in on customer deaths, asking why Pullman's power was disconnected two days after she paid $125 toward her balance, and whether or not she had been properly notified of the pending shutoff.

Eleven of those questions are directed, by name, at Brandt. "Did you, Mr. Brandt, approve APS's disconnect policy?" one question asks. "If no, who did?" 
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Elizabeth Whitman was a staff writer for Phoenix New Times from March 2019 to April 2020.