PHOENIX (3OYS)-- Like many Arizonans, Tomika Havis depends on utilities. Particularly electricity for her apartment.
"Dishwasher and definitely the stove."
But Havis was concerned the appliances she relies on would be cut off after falling behind on her APS bill.
"My first bill behind almost 2 months’ worth of bills the first time which was $257."
Havis is on a fixed income and fell $257 behind on her APS bill following a number of personal issues, including a leg amputation and losing her job.
But, Havis isn't alone. She's just one out of 88,000 APS customers who are behind with APS. When you add up all those delinquent accounts, APS says it's owed more than $30 million dollars.
"I was just struggling."
But Havis isn't the only one struggling to pay her electric bill.
That's because state regulators banned electric companies from disconnecting delinquent accounts between June and October 15th, the hottest part of the year.
Now that the ban has been lifted, it's time for those customers to pay up.
"We have been signing individuals back in the early summer."
Lydia Martinez is with Chicanos Por La Casa, one of many of different Arizona organizations where citizens can turn for help with their delinquent APS bills.
All you have to do, she tells 3 On Your Side, is to get qualified.
"We use our standard poverty level guidelines so the same income qualifications if someone was to receive AHCCCS, snap assistance so it's the same standard grid."
The organization says it will pay up to $400 per delinquent account a year.
For Havis, she says she couldn't have done it without the help.
"Exactly, a big life saver, a big life saver."
APS sent 3 On Your Side the following information:
“As of Oct. 16, accounts with a past due balance of $75 or more are being set-up on a 4-month payment arrangement. Those payment plan details will appear on the next bill. The arrangement divides the customer’s total past due balance into four monthly payments. Customers can pay the past due balance in full at any time to end the payment arrangement. We encourage customers who need more time pay to call our Customer Care Center at 602-371-7171 or go to www.aps.com/support to review their options.”
“APS is committed to working with customers. We don’t have a line of sight into a customer’s personal circumstances and whether they are facing challenges, so we encourage those who are struggling to pay their bills to contact us so we can offer options to help them maintain service. Those options include a number of plans, programs and resources offered by APS and through our community partners. For example, in addition to the Crisis Bill Assistance you are featuring, we have the APS Energy Support Program which offers a 25% monthly bill discount to limited-income customers who qualify. More assistance options are available on www.aps.com/support.”
3 On Your Side is providing the following information where consumers get can learn more about how to get help with their utility bills.