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COVID-19: Are utility companies doing enough to help as we reach 100 degree temps?

Posted at 2:49 PM, Apr 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-23 00:12:00-04

PHOENIX, Ariz. — Have you turned on the A/C yet? Well, the Valley is expecting the first 100 degree day of the year this week, so what do you do especially now that your stuck at home when it's both the hottest and electricity rates are the highest?

It was just a few short weeks ago the Arizona Corporation Commission told us they were looking to take action to help cut costs, but as we're learning their push hasn't gone very far.

With all of us working from home, The Let Joe Know Team asked why don't APS and SRP lower their rates during the day. It's the highest cost and with the highest temps coming, you'll be paying.

When asked, APS and SRP said it wasn't necessary for them to come up with a new rate due to COVID-19. They said with their rates and the right plan, prices were low enough.

But that's not what Commissioner Sandra Kennedy thought.

We reported she wanted a hearing before the Arizona Corporation Commission, requesting one low tariff or rate from each company.

The Commission questioned companies at a special meeting on March 16th, but when it was put on the agenda for March 24 to follow up it was pulled.

Corporation Commission Chairman Bob Burns saying at the time that the situation was "too fluid." That any update given during the meeting could quickly be outdated, so the discussion never happened.

The item did pop back up at a staff meeting on April 15 where commissioners questioned how a rate change would work, but it's unclear if it will be moving forward once again. At the time this story aired, it did not have any future dates listed for discussion.

Online filings show Commissioner Kennedy is continuing to question utility companies, like APS. They wrote the Corporation Commission and the Let Joe Know Team saying they are working to educate customers on how to reduce energy usage and provide financial relief to those behind on their bills.

But Commissioner Kennedy writing back asking why information to reduce usage doesn't mention COVID-19 and to get financial help, why does a customer have to be two months behind?

When The Let Joe Know Team asked those questions, APS told us they are trying to do more. They say they are waiting for approval from the Corporation Commission on a $16 million relief plan, something that will not lower rates, but would give discounts or a one-time bill forgiveness of up to $300 for those facing financial troubles connected to the coronavirus.

This is still something consumers say may not be enough.

Now, The Let Joe Know Team asked the Corporation Commission why, during a time that so many of us are home, isn't this a priority and if it will be discussed anytime soon? They deferred to Commissioner Kennedy's office, saying it could be on the May agenda but that has not been finalized.