MESA, AZ — Salt River Project is extending a moratorium on service disconnections through Oct. 1 due to the coronavirus pandemic, the company announced earlier this month.
The policy has been in place since mid-March when the virus was beginning to spread in Arizona, prompting widespread unemployment, business restrictions and stay-at-home orders.
“Right now, on average, we’re giving about 100 customers a day financial assistance and finding ways for them to receive those funds,” said SRP spokeswoman Erica Sturwold.
According to the company, around 7,700 customers have worked with the company to receive utility bill assistance from a variety of programs both through SRP and Valley municipalities. Still, Sturwold said around 140,000 customers have some sort of debt on their bill — triple the average for this time of year — totaling around $32 million.
“Our customer service representatives are prepared to help [customers] come up with a flexible payment plan that works for their particular situation,” she said.
Toby Martin, who owns Rocky’s Pizza and Cheesesteaks in Mesa, said the pandemic brought unexpected challenges on top of the normal struggle of operating a restaurant. Worried about being able to cover the restaurant’s utility bill, she reached out to SRP which offered her a grant to cover some expenses. It also connected her with the Mesa CARES Small Business Reemergence Program. That program covered her rent and utility expenses for three months, she said.
“There are programs out there, you just have to ask,” she said.
Sturwold is urging customers behind on their bills to reach out to the company ahead of the Oct. 1 deadline to set up a payment or assistance plan.
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