- Arizona passed a law banning utilities from shutting down power over unanswered bills in 2019.
- This moratorium expired Friday, the Republic of Arizona reported.
- The state announced a new $ 36 million on Friday. Program to help families pay bills.
Arizona will make $ 36 million available to families with bills, the Arizona Department of Economic Security said Friday.
“The team in the Arizona Department of Economic Security continues to find new and innovative ways to support Arizona’s lifting itself out of economic challenges,” Governor Doug Ducey said in the statement.
The announcement comes as a two-year moratorium on service expiration has expired, the Arizona Republic reported.
The Republic of Arizona reported that in June 2019, an emergency law passed by state regulators prevented utilities from shutting down services for people who were missing bills. The emergency rule came after a 72-year-old woman died after her power was cut off.
The pilot program will work with Arizona Public Service Co., Salt River Project, UniSource Energy Services, Tucson Electric Power and Southwest Gas.
The announcement said the funding would be applied directly to customers’ accounts when they are considered eligible for the program.
DES said it also plans to extend the program to all utilities following this pilot program.
“Public-private partnerships like this are an integral part of ensuring that families have access to the resources they need,” said DES Director Michael Wisehart in the announcement. “With the cooperation of utilities, we will be able to distribute assistance to help customers keep the lights on and their accounts running. We are grateful for their partnership in supporting families in Arizona.”
The Republic of Arizona reported that the funds for the program come from the 2021 Consolidated Appropriations Act, which was passed by Congress last December.
The state has rolled out several support programs during the pandemic, including a rental assistance program.
Earlier this month, a senior official in President Joe Biden’s administration warned Ducey that millions in federal emergency aid could be at risk due to two anti-mask training programs, Politico reported.
In August, Ducey launched a grant program that used $ 163 million from federal funds to donate to schools that stay open during the pandemic and also comply with state laws banning mask and vaccine mandates. He also launched a $ 10 million program to allow families to send children attending schools that required masks or vaccines to private schools.
Deputy Finance Minister Adewale Adeyemo said he was concerned that the programs “undermine evidence-based efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19” and have given Ducey 30 days to explain how Arizona will “remedy the problems” before he faces consequences, including losing funding.