Tucson residents get chance to air grievances over gas outage

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TUCSON, Ariz. -- Thursday night Tucson residents had their turn to vent frustration about the Southwest Gas outage in February.  Sierra Vista residents told their stories in a forum held Wednesday night.

The Arizona Corporation Commission was in town to hear from residents affected by the natural gas outage that left almost 19,000 people without gas for days.

"We had no word that was of any help from Southwest Gas, they were not answerning their phones with a human voice," said a Tucson resident speaking to the commission.

Customers said it every way they could.  In the midst of tucson's worst cold disaster, they didn't get answers from Southwest Gas.

"I was quite ill so I couldnt go back to my house," said Tucson resident Vicki Davis.
 
But their biggest problem wasn't the cold, but rather communication.  Southwest Gas says they've taken note.

"I think we're on track in terms of improvements," said Libby Howell from Southwest Gas.

But people in rita ranch aren't so sure things will change.  Trust now a major factor.

"It should have never happened, why they weren't prepared I dont know," said Tucson resident Dan Pawlak.

"They hadn't done what they should have to make sure this doesn't happen," said Davis.

Southwest Gas says their goal is to rebuild trust.

"We do want to make it better and overtime we'll regain that trust.  And we're working hard to it," said Howell.

In the meantime, residents say the opportunity to vent and sound off about their experiences is a first step, but they want a lot more from Southwest Gas down the road.

Commissioner's said they're putting together a mock disaster drill to be held in Tucson to see how the utility companies will react if this happens again. 

Commissioner's also said, however, the only real solution is natural gas storage in Southern Arizona, which is still years away.