When should Arizona prohibit electric companies from shutting off your power? New rules could come soon

Salt River Project utility poles/Michael Macnamara/SRP

By Ryan Randazzo | Arizona Republic

As the summer heat continues to punish Arizona, state utility regulators are getting closer to setting new requirements for when electric and gas companies are allowed to shut off service to people who are behind on their bills.

The Arizona Corporation Commission took up the issue in 2019 when it was revealed that a utility customer the prior year had died in her home after power was cut off for nonpayment, and other similar cases subsequently came to light.

The woman was late on her bills for months and was $51.84 short on her delinquent account after making a partial payment two days before the power was cut, according to information provided to state regulators.

The Arizona Corporation Commission issued emergency rules in 2019 restricting utility disconnections and utilities continue to operate under the rules set then while permanent rules were hashed out.

Earlier this year, the commissioners took an initial vote on permanent rules. The revised rules would allow electric utilities to choose to either prohibit disconnections from June 1 to Oct. 15 each year, or to prohibit them when the National Weather Service forecasts temperatures below 32 degrees or exceeding 95 degrees.

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