APS announced it will temporarily stop shutting off the power to people behind on their payments while it reviews its policies.
The announcement came in the wake of media inquiries about the death in 2018 of a woman in the Valley after her power was shut off. The Maricopa County Medical Examiner’s Office listed heat as a factor in her death, along with heart disease and diabetes.
Phoenix New Times reported that the family of Stephanie Pullman said she may not have known her power would be cut off, since her phone wasn’t working. Family members said they did find a single written notice of the cutoff among her things after she died, New Times reported. However, the company said it sent her three shutoff notices for unpaid bills ranging from $85 to $122 in May, June and July. The company shut off the power in September, New Times reported.
An APS press release said the review of its shutoff policies “was driven by a number of factors, including recent public comments at Arizona Corporation Commission open meetings and conversations with community stakeholders about customer care and safety; the onset of summer heat; and reports of a 2018 customer death in which heat may have been a contributing factor after electricity service was disconnected.”
The release said the policy review will take 30 days, during which time the company won’t cut off power to non-paying customers. The bills will continue to accumulate and customers will still be responsible for paying the full balance, the release concluded.
“Our hearts go out to the family of the customer (who died.) The safety of our fellow Arizonans is our top priority. We want all our customers to stay connected, especially during the summer.”
APS said in the next month it will work with community advocates and organizations as well as other public agencies to review current procedures for power cutoffs, especially in areas where high and low temperatures could pose a danger to customers without power.
APS has a number of assistance programs, including payment arrangements, due date extensions and bill support programs.
Customers who need help can call 800-253-9405 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. on weekdays or go to aps.com for more information.
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