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.

 


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