City of Page/Page Electric Utility

The corporate boundaries of the City of Page, Arizona are now more than three times larger than they used to be, thanks to a substantial and complex annexation that Scott Rhodes handled. Not only was the annexation substantively complex, it followed on the heels of a highly unpopular, and ultimately unsuccessful, similar attempt from only a few years ago (Jennings Strouss was not involved). The project was greeted with a lot of public skepticism from the beginning.

This annexation was highly unusual because the annexed property consists entirely of federal and state land. As a result, no signatures were required on the annexation petition; however, whether an annexation can proceed with no signatures posed a unique legal issue that the firm had to resolve. In addition, because the annexation area consists of land owned and controlled by the National Park Service (NPS), the Bureau of Land Management, and the Bureau of Reclamation, the federal government initially took the position that it had a right to consent to the annexation. We were able to convince the federal agencies that they do not have a right to consent. The firm then worked cooperatively with each of the federal agencies to respond to their many practical and legal questions concerning the possible effects of the annexation on the management of their lands. As a result, in the end there not only was no federal opposition, the Park Service sent a director to the City Council annexation hearing to state that the NPS was impressed with the level of cooperation in the process and supported the annexation.

The annexation will not allow Page to expand. Rather, its purpose is to protect the electric service distribution area of Page Electric Utility, which belongs to the City. This step was considered necessary because a major water pipeline is under consideration that eventually will draw water from Lake Powell and send it to Utah. The mouth of the pipeline will be very close to the Arizona-Utah border, and because the pipeline itself is a Utah project, Page anticipated that one or more Utah electric providers might try to gain authority to provide the electricity necessary to operate the pumps at the source of the pipeline. Those pumps will require a substantial amount of electricity. If the pipeline becomes a customer of Page Electric Utility, the revenue potential for the City will be very substantial and could provide a lasting and significant financial benefit to that small community. Page already has electric infrastructure near the location of the pipeline intake. The combination of the existing infrastructure and the annexation should now make it very difficult for a Utah entity to gain permission to serve the intake area of the pipeline.