By Elizabeth Whitman | Phoenix New Times
75 years old and rely on Social Security. Every month, a relatively generous government check of $1,000 arrives for you. After paying $700 in rent for your budget one-bedroom apartment in Phoenix, you split the remaining $300 between out-of-pocket medical expenses, food, toilet paper, and utility bills. Occasionally, you ask your kids for money.
Every summer, you face an impossible choice.
In Phoenix’s triple-digit summer heat, you need air-conditioning to keep cool. Your heart and your circulation aren’t what they used to be.
Keep your home cool enough, and face a bill you can’t pay. Turn the air conditioning off, and risk overheating, landing you in the emergency room or worse.
What do you do?
In Arizona, responsibility for this potentially deadly dilemma has landed in the lap of utility regulators at the Corporation Commission.
Last June, after learning about a woman’s heat-related death after Arizona Public Service cut her power over $51 owed, the five corporation commissioners temporarily banned summer shutoffs for unpaid bills.