In the new year, Arizona Public Service Co. will continue to offer support to customers in need during the pandemic.
Since March, when the pandemic changed Arizonans’ way of life, APS, the state's largest power utility, suspended late fees and disconnections for nonpayment through December and distributed almost $9 million via a special customer support fund that provided one-time bill credits of up to $300 for residential customers and $1,000 for small businesses.
In addition, APS worked to connect customers with more than $6.1 million in various forms of utility bill support – both COVID relief and that available even without a pandemic.
“Our pandemic bill relief programs have assisted more than 65,000 customers in 2020 to help those impacted by COVID-19 get back on their feet,” APS Chief Customer Officer Monica Whiting said in a news release.
APS will continue to waive late fees for residential and business customers through Oct. 15, 2021, and in adherence to the approach adopted by the Arizona Corporation Commission, the company will provide flexible payment options and additional assistance for those who need help the most.
The following includes the various types of assistance that will be available in 2021:
• Beginning with January bills, APS will automatically place residential customers with past due balances of $75 or more on an eight-month payment plan, giving them more time to bring their accounts current. APS is voluntarily applying this to business customers as well.
• Limited-income customers on the APS Energy Support or Energy Support with Medical programs with past due balances of any amount received a one-time credit prior to the payment arrangement. The credit will be $250 or the total balance, whichever is lower.
• APS is making its limited-income bill discount programs available to more people by expanding the income qualification from 150% of the federal poverty level to 200%. More than 71,000 limited-income customers are currently enrolled and receive a bill discount each month. In 2020, these customers received more than $25 million in bill discounts.
APS urges customers who believe they need more than eight months to bring their accounts current or those who are behind by less than $75 to contact the APS Customer Care Center to discuss their options.
“We encourage customers who have struggled to stay current with their bills, or who need longer than the eight-month automatic arrangement, to contact us so we can help them bring their accounts back into good standing over time,” Ms. Whiting said. “We also can connect them to utility bill assistance programs, energy efficiency programs and service plan options that may help reduce future bills. We are genuinely here to work with our customers and provide help and support.”
Bill assistance programs available to qualified customers include:
• Energy Support programs: Limited-income customers receive a bill discount each month – 25% for APS Energy Support and 35% for Energy Support with Medical.
• Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program: Community Action Programs and other designated local providers offer federal programs to assist with energy bills.
• APS Crisis Bill Assistance: Up to $800 annually is available to help qualified limited-income customers with their APS bills if they are experiencing unexpected financial hardship such as a high medical bill or loss of a job.
• Project SHARE: The Salvation Army administers the Service to Help Arizonans with Relief on Energy program, which provides up to $300 annually in emergency energy bill assistance to those facing severe financial hardship.
• Location-based support: Customers can connect to special COVID relief programs based on where they live through 211 Arizona.
To explore these available resources, customers can visit aps.com/support or contact the APS Customer Care Center. Advisors are available to assist in English and Spanish 24/7 at 602-371-7171 or 800-253-9405.