Corporation Commission gets answers from SWG, some still without gas

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TUCSON, Ariz. -- Some customers of Southwest Gas have been without service for six days now. In October, the company assured the Arizona Corporation Commission it was prepared for winter.

The chairman sent a letter to Southwest Gas and its supplier, looking for answers. Tuesday the commission got some.

It's too early to say whether the gas outage in Tucson was preventable. That from the chairman of the Arizona Corporation Commission, which regulates utilities statewide.

"I think Southwest Gas wasn't sure just how much it was going to affect them," said Arizona Corporation Commission Chairman Gary Pierce.

Public notices on the website of its supplier, El Paso Natural Gas Company, warn of possible shortages the day before the outage.

And Southwest Gas did not relay that warning to its customers and ask them to conserve.

Yet the Corporation Commission isn't holding them to task for that.

"Their communications probably could have been a little better with their customers," said Pierce.

It's criticizing Southwest Gas for how it communicated with customers once they were in the cold.

Many complained they didn't know when they needed to be home to get the heat turned back on.

"We want these utilities to size these systems correctly so we pay the right amount of money as customers and if there is something of an unusual event, it responds correctly," said Pierce.

Southwest Gas has made three passes to the remaining 500 houses without service.  It's now up to those customers to call them back to turn the gas back on.