SCOTTSDALE, Ariz — The high heat and working from home has many worried about electric bills. Utility companies have suspended shutoffs and waived late fees amid the coronavirus crisis, but many customers believe more should be done, like lowering rates.
“I’ve been here for 12 years now," said Robbie Peterson of Scottsdale.
Peterson knows that when the heat moves into Arizona, it's here to stay.
“I’ve learned long since the first year is the easiest one," Peterson said.
Like many, Peterson is on APS' time of use plan, meaning energy costs more between 3 p.m. and 8 p.m.
“It was rough enough just coming home and having to sweat out literally those last hour or two of time after you got home at work," Peterson said.
But now, Peterson thinks it will be even rougher with so many working from home. Not using air conditioning for five hours will be hard to bear.
“Such a very high unprecedented number of people have lost jobs and income," Peterson said.
Peterson wants companies to lower rates. A spokesperson for APS said that's not happening.
"We can’t just change rates up or down. It’s a long, regulated process. For example, our last rate change was 14 months in the making. And, it simply would not be prudent based on a month of an unprecedented situation with an uncertain outlook," said APS spokesperson Jill Hanks in an email to 12 News.
Hanks said there are several things customers can do to cut costs.
1. One is pre-cool your home by setting your thermostat a few degrees lower than usual before peak hours.
2. Another tip is to use appliances like the dishwasher or washing machine before 3 p.m. or after 8 p.m.
3. Hanks said if you have a pool, you should run your pump early in the day.
4. Customers can also try to use a grill or slow cooker for meals.
According to Hanks, APS has a proposal on the table which could help customers who have lost their job amid the coronavirus pandemic qualify for a 25 percent discount for four months. The proposal also includes a one-time bill forgiveness credit of up to $300.
However, that proposal still needs to be approved by the Arizona Corporation Commission.
“There are people out risking their lives to help people right now. I think a utility company and a government regulation agency could do a few things to make things a little better," Peterson said.
The corporation commission says if you are out of work, you might qualify for a reduced monthly bill even if you did not previously qualify. You should contact your utility company.
12 News reached out to SRP asking if it plans to lower rates but so far the company has not answered.