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Regulators take utility disconnection rules under consideration

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By Howard Fischer | Capitol Media Services via Arizona Capitol Times

State utility regulators are trying to determine how hot is too hot – and least when it comes when blocking electric companies from shutting off the power to customers.

Commissioner Boyd Dunn

A draft plan reviewed by the Arizona Corporation Commission on Monday would keep utilities from pulling the plug only if the forecast predicted that temperatures in the next five days would rise about 105 degrees.

What’s notable is that the original proposal set the bar at just 95 degrees.

But Elijah Abinah, the commission’s utilities director, cited documents from Tucson Electric Power and its sister company, UNS Energy, which showed that using the lower number effectively would preclude disconnects from April into October. And Abinah also said that the 105-degree threshold is what is used in Nevada, the only other state in the area, which has such a hard-and-fast rule.

That change drew derision from John Coffman, an attorney speaking on behalf of AARP. He said a broader look across the nation finds that the majority of states that preclude shutoffs based on heat use 95 degrees as the test.

“I understand Arizona is a very hot state,” he said


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