PHOENIX, AZ (3TV/CBS5) -- The commission that regulates APS is vowing to make changes after it was revealed a Valley woman may have died when the power company cut her electricity last summer.

[WATCH: Changes could be in the works for APS]

In an interview, the head of Arizona’s Corporation Commission said he's not taking the allegations against APS lightly.

[RELATED: APS: Delinquent customers to stay connected after woman's heat-related death]

Stephanie Pullman died last year after APS cut the power to her Sun City West home. APS said “heat may have been a contributing factor" in her death, after her electricity service was disconnected.

Records from The Arizona Corporation Commission say APS mailed several notices to Pullman before it turned off power for non-payment on Sept. 7 of last year.

"I don’t see how you could shut off someone’s electric in triple-digit weather," said Pullman's daughter. "In my heart I believe they’re at fault."

[WATCH: Woman speaks about her mother who died after APS cut power to Sun City West home]

"There needs to be a better way to identify people who need help. Somehow, we need to know," said Bob Burns, Chairman of Arizona’s Corporation Commission.

Burns said a big issue is the lack of knowledge APS has about its customers.

"They get a notice someone hasn't paid their bill. How do they know that someone hasn't just moved away?" he asked.

But Burns said it's not necessarily APS’ fault. 

He's said he's now encouraging better communication between APS and Arizona’s social service departments, so at-risk customers can be identified and helped more quickly.

"Food stamps... child care for low income... all that stuff is out there already," he told Arizona’s Family.

Burns said he and the commission will also be taking a look at 2017's controversial rate hikes.

According to APS, the number of yearly disconnects spiked after power costs went up.

As a result, Burns said he is now seeing if rates should come back down, all so more people can pay their bills on time.

"All things could change in a rate case, because we need to investigate all the costs that are involved," he said.

Burns said he also welcomes feedback from Stephanie Pullman’s family.

He told Arizona’s Family he has already requested an emergency vote to make changes to the commission's rules.

He stated that it is a process that normally takes six months, yet he wants it done by next Thursday.

[SPECIAL SECTION: Extreme Heat]

The Maricopa County Department of Public Health recorded 182 heat-related deaths in 2018. Forty percent of those occurred indoors.

While many of those deaths stem from air conditioning systems that are broken or just not turned on, the data is incomplete, and some wonder how many of those individuals had their electricity shut off.

"This is a public health crisis," said consumer advocate Stacey Champion.

[WATCH: Phoenix advocate calls utility disconnects a 'public health crisis']

The largest electric utility in the state, APS serves 2.7 million customers and employs 6,400 people.

 


Copyright 2019 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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(24) comments

kell490

What I don't understand is why it took almost a year to anything about it? I'm assuming it took that long for medical report on what happened, or was this something dug up for political purposes.

dr64zona

Don't know about the charges here that APS is gouging it's customers as I have SRP as my power source. Bills always get higher during the summer, duh. Just was wondering where the daughter was at on this?

AZ Native

Obviously, the daughter didn't check up/in with her mother on a regular basis. Customers have to take some responsibility, step up! If you have elderly family members call them if you are out of state or stop by and see them if you are in town. It's not up to the utility company to babysit them for you. Expect your rates to increase again because of measures they will now put in place.

Bearly

IN the last 20 years my electricity costs per month have gone from $50 to $180 and I use less now than when I had 3 children living at home. APS is criminal and way to greedy.

ThinkingDude

I'm not going to debate the morality of shutting down someone's power for non-payment in triple digit heat, as there are many arguments to be made for and against, but I am surprised that the Corporation Commission would get involved with this at all. After all, these dolts just keep rubber stamping every rate hike that APS asks for. I always thought that they were supposed to represent the people that elected them, but it seems that they really represent APS in it's quest to gouge every last dime out of their customers for the benefit of their investors.

Wearenotperfect

Some idiots on here posting about Socialism this and Democrats that and blah blah blah! I'm not a fan of Socialism nor am I a democratic or republican(anymore as of 2016) but if you haven't already noticed America had been a semi-Socialist country for quite some time now. Socialism would not have allowed this to happen, in theory, if you know what true Socialism is. Those are the facts people so keep voting for your two party dictatorship!

JustinP

"Socialism would not have allowed this to happen, in theory," You are right. If we had true socialism, there would be rolling brownouts and the gov't would probably require no A/C on for all. Then, the socialists would all suffer in stifling heat but this lady would be in a home where they would have put wet rags on her to lower her temperature. She may have lived; everyone else would be miserable. All the above said, that doesn't mean I support APS here. An oligopoly (some would say monopoly) has responsibilities.

Wearenotperfect

You are correct and i don't disagree with you but I find it hilarious when all these "Conservative" and so called "Republicans" whine and complain about America heading towards "Socialism" but then are all for it when something like this happens. Hypocrites on both sides in my honest opinion.

Phillup Witgas

They have to make up for all the people going solar ya know.....

Kasandra39

Aps way overcharges they need to have a similar program like srp where u can buy power and manage it on a meter when your balance is to high and you cant pay your bill. They also need to lower there rates and offer incentives for people who would use that. I loved being able to monitor and buy power from srp smart meter program. I could control my usuage better the rates where lower and i could budget and not have to worry about my power being shut off because in an emergency they would advance you enough to get by until you could purchase more power.

ObeyLaws

So this was considered a "scandal?" That has GOT to be a term the media coined, because it is completely inaccurate - but it is sensational.

Dean

You people wanting to vote socialist (democrat) better get used to things like this happening. When the government runs things and allows monopolies to take over (owned by the government) they do not give a d^mn about people - just profits for those running things - like Clinton, Obama, Sanders, and the majority of the education administrators of higher learning.

WminPhoenix

In this Republican run state, monopolies like the utilities are allowed to do just about anything they want. The donate millions through their "dark money" PAC's and Republicans snap to attention and do whatever their money masters want. The political labels, "Democrat" and "Socialist" are diametrically opposed political philosophies and are an oxymoron. The NFL is a socialist organization, if you need an example to help you comprehend what socialism is.

Wearenotperfect

Dean is an idiot and a moron!

Amico

the true APS scandal is their excessive cost of the electric service and what choices we have anyway right?

NavyJR

Well if the GND is adopted those will skyrocket beyond the ability of anyone with an income below $75-100K to even hope to pay part time; which means virtually ALL the elderly in the middle to low income ranges, all the poor, etc. The GOOD news is that people have been living in the deserts through triple digits for centuries and not dying of that alone, unless they lived foolishly.

Amico

well I don't even use the AC in the summer

Middleoftheroad

Ir should be against the law to turn a persons power off in the summer, just as it is to turn their heat off in the winter.

NavyJR

And how do you propose those companies deal with the deadbeats who don't pay those bills?

DanB

I see a rate increase on the horizon similar to a Universal Service Fund (on your phone bill) to pay for those who are having trouble with their electric bills. Many don't realize that on your phone bill there's a Universal Service Fund charge. That fund pays for or helps pay for basic phone service for those who can't afford phone service. In some areas, it pays for cell phone service (cheaper than land lines). I think there's a charge to cover internet service for those who can't afford internet.

NavyJR

I believe that is already there; so it will be labeled as something else. And I don't believe they do land lines since the advent of Obamaphones, which come out of the pockets of every cell phone user.

Robs

Oiye heard they are the only ones yhat sell electricity thier, ya all got bo choices and if did would be monkey see monkey do (same, just different name) [whistling]

Amico

sure they want to change in order to avoid a lawsuit for murder

Wearenotperfect

Nobody murdered anyone you idiot! Someone didn't pay their bill, is that to hard for you to understand? Next time you don't get paid for a service you performed let me know how you feel.

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