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Tucson Electric Power stops disconnecting power for residential customers before regulators vote

Posted at 6:26 PM, Jun 19, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-19 21:26:11-04

TUCSON — Tucson Electric Power will not be disconnecting residential customers behind on their bills while Arizona utility regulators work to pass emergency new rules. This comes after the heat-related death of a Sun City West woman last year. She was about 50 dollars short on her bill, and her power was turned off.

“I mean it’s horrible,” said Marie Boling outside of a library in Tucson. “I mean I’m a senior citizen, if they cut off my electricity to my AC I’d be dead in a day.”

Arizona Corporation Commissioners are expected to vote Thursday on a proposal to never disconnect a customer behind on their bill between June 1st and September 30th.

“We thought a voluntary, temporary suspension of what we normally do, seemed like the right thing to do given the circumstances and concerns about the issue,” said Tucson Electric Power Spokesperson Joseph Barrios.

Barrios says TEP will not disconnect people who fall behind on payments while regulators are working on the new rules. But he says this is not a free pass to stop paying.

“To be clear this is not a bill forgiveness program of any kind, the customers electric bill is not just simply going to go away.”

Barrios says people having trouble paying their bills can look on their website for help requesting an extension, working out a payment plan, or reaching out to non-profits for assistance.

People we talked to said working with customers to make payments makes a lot more sense than turning off service in the hot summer months.

“They got to look to the person and find out what they can do to get payments current, anything that's logical, not send them to death,” said Boling.