Arizonans owe nearly $70 million on past due utility bills
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Arizonans who are customers of SRP and APS collectively owe about $70 million in past due residential utility bills, On Your Side has learned.
“The last couple years have been tough on everyone, and we definitely have had customers through that two years needing more help,” said Kathleen Mascareñas, a spokesperson for SRP. According to company data, SRP customers’ past due residential balances currently totals around $13 million. In August 2021, past due bills reached $17.3 million. Prior to the pandemic in February 2020, past due balances for residential services topped out at $12.6 million.
“Once you get in that pinch, call us immediately because it’s easier to help you on the front end than once that debt accrues and keeps accruing it becomes a little bit more difficult,” Mascarenas said. “Our two priorities are keeping our customers in power, and making our power affordable. We have an economy price plan where they can get up to $300 per year off their bill. We also have credit resource counselors that can work even deeper with people that are deeper in debt.”
APS customers are even farther behind on utility bills. Ten percent of APS’s 1.2 million residential customers in Arizona have past due balances, totaling an estimated $56 million, according to Yessica DelRincon, a spokesperson for APS. The average amount overdue is $470.
“Residential service disconnections for non-payment are suspended for the summer from June 1, 2022 through Oct. 15, 2022, and we continue to waive late fees,” DelRincon said. “Customers continue to receive monthly bills through the summer months and remain responsible for making timely payments. In addition, customers with past-due balances of more than $75 at the end of the summer will be placed on an automatic six-month payment arrangement plan to give them more time to pay off their balance. We offer flexible payment arrangements and payment policies for customers and convenient options for customers to pay their utility bill online, by mail, phone or in person.”
Check out the following list for resources for each utility company:
According to the July consumer price index, the cost of energy services is up almost 19% year over year. Across the country, an estimated one in six American households, according to a report by the National Energy Assistance Directors Association.
In Arizona, assistance is also available through the Arizona Department of Economic Security. According to state data, 32,000 households are receiving some type of energy assistance through a DES program, such as the federally funded Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). The new DES Bulk Utility Pilot Program is also available to low-income customers. Eligible households can receive up to $3,500 per month in utility assistance for up to 18 months, according to DES.
“We understand there is a significant need for utility assistance in the community, as an increasing number of households participate in other energy assistance programs,” said Tasya Peterson, a spokesperson for DES. “These programs often provide larger benefit amounts for longer periods of time, and in many cities and counties, can be accessed through the same Community Action Agencies that provide LIHEAP.”
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