Paying your utility bill: What's being done to help?

Posted at 5:37 PM, May 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-06 01:59:13-04

PHOENIX — As more people find themselves financially strapped, the Let Joe Know Team has been pushing the Arizona Corporation Commission. We've asked them, why aren't they doing anything about utility rates?

Those questions possibly prompting the items to be put back on the agenda, but there may still not be a guarantee help is coming to consumers.

Five commissioners sit on the Arizona Corporation - the agency responsible for overseeing and regulating, among other industries, the utility companies across the state.

Of those five commissioners, only three have responded to our request for comment.

The Commission Chairman Bob Burns and Commissioner Justin Olsen, have stayed silent.

For weeks, the Let Joe Know team has been asking, are utility companies doing enough to help consumers as temperatures get hotter and more people are forced to stay home and is it being done sooner, rather than later?

Commissioner Sandra Kennedy telling us she is still pushing for a lower rate for consumers despite input from staff saying it's not possible.

"We have the ability to give increases in an emergency. Why can't we take this emergency that we're in, this pandemic emergency, and lower rates even freeze rates?' said Commissioner Kennedy.

She says that a handful of utility companies have implemented rate increases recently, so a freeze would hit a pause button, using rates before they were implemented.

Kennedy says other states have done it in response to the coronavirus, so why isn't it possible here in Arizona.

In a statement Commissioner Dunn says any option they can proceed with legally is on the table; adding that they have already taken action to ensure there are no cut-offs for customers at this time.

Commissioner Lea Marquez-Peterson sees a different approach.

"We have a much greater need than we have had before. So, my efforts have been around promoting utility assistance programs that are now in place in all 15 counties," said Commissioner Marquez-Peterson.

She says consumers need to be reaching out to their utility companies, who can help them make the best decision.

However, Commissioner Kennedy said that may not be enough; questioning companies like APS on why information to customers with ways to save money doesn't add ways to save because of COVID-19.

Now we asked you in the Let Joe Know Facebook Page, what are you doing as it gets hotter across the state?

Wendy, a teacher working from home along side her husband, says she is "definitely monitoring the AC... trying to keep it at a manageable temperature."

Marta says her bill keeps going up and up. While thankful to still be working, she says "working from home may make it even higher."

Those are the reasons we are continuing to push the Commission's Chairman and Commissioner Olsen on what they want to see done. We will also be keeping a close eye on next week's meeting to see what happens.

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