Final Package of Termination of Service Rules Approved
Commissioners on a 3-2 vote approved the final package of rules regarding utility disconnections during extreme weather conditions. The final approval comes after two years of workshops, stakeholder engagement, public comment sessions, and Commissioner discussion and debate at open meetings to determine the appropriate thresholds for when a utility may and may not disconnect a customer’s service during periods of extreme heat and cold. During the rulemaking process, many amendments were offered and adopted resulting in Commission approval of the rule language at its April 2021 Open Meeting for publication and commencement of the formal rulemaking process.
The rules allow electric utilities to choose between two disconnection options during periods of extreme weather: if the forecasted temperature is above 95°F or below 32°F, or they can choose to continue utilizing the June 1 through October 15 disconnection moratorium period.
Further, the final rules add additional reporting requirements for reporting bill arrearages, including reporting arrearages of $100 or more. Customers on a payment plan who miss one payment or only make a partial payment within a 12-month period will not have their payment plan terminated resulting in the outstanding balance to be due immediately. The bill arrearage threshold for disconnection has been increased from $100 to $300 for electric utilities, and from $75 to $100 for gas utilities. At the November Open Meeting, Commissioner Olson offered an amendment to the Recommended Opinion and Order which exempts gas and electric cooperatives from quarterly reporting requirements.
The final package of rules will now be sent to the Arizona Attorney General’s Office for certification.