SRP has raised utility rates, so customers may not like it when they hear what the company is spending a lot of money on.
Not only are utility companies paying millions of dollars in advertisements, but a big donation to the host committee for the 2015 Super Bowl is raising some eyebrows.
SRP's board met Thursday to hear a plan to donate $1 million in cash, services and electricity to the Super Bowl Host Committee in anticipation of Super Bowl 49, which will be held in Glendale.
The Super Bowl is the biggest sporting and television event on the planet, and having hosted the big game before, Phoenix area residents know what a financial boost that can bring. But what's it worth to be the best host?
Is a million dollars a worthwhile investment for SRP to "invest" in the Super Bowl celebration in 2015?
Thursday, utility board members pleaded their case.
"It is a big deal and it is a huge economic engine," said a board member. "There are branding benefits."
It's the same logic that, despite the effective monopoly on power, SRP uses to advertise in general. They've got to sell programs they feel will benefit the community and the Super Bowl is just another vehicle to do it.
"Salt River Project as a public utility has a message to bear, you can't sell a secret," says Keith Woods, SRP Board of Directors.
The million dollar donation is not a done deal just yet, but some very vocal SRP customers are speaking up. They don't feel the utility has any business sponsoring anything that might pass the cost along to the customer.
"Cost of doing business? I don't think a million dollars to the Super Bowl is the cost of doing business," says A.J. Lafaro, Tempe resident. "The NFL can absolutely afford the additional expenditures to put this thing on in 2015."
But it isn't the NFL itself -- the host committee needs the support of the community to provide events leading up to the big game.
"This is the host committee, this is a local organization, this is a not for profit entity that relies on the local community," says Scott Harelson of SRP.
"We need to get in front of the parade, we need to tell people nationally internationally what a great place Phoenix is to live and work and to own a business," says Woods.
So it goes along with the line -- you've got to spend money to make money -- and SRP says it should be close to a wash with the increased power usage.
Aside from that, the exposure on an international scale, is worth the investment to bring people to our state, they say.
The full SRP board will decide on the donation now that the presentation of the proposal is complete.