Arizona Program To Help Needy Families Pay Utility Bills

PHOENIX (AP) — The Arizona Department of Economic Security is launching a program to provide $36 million of assistance to help needy households pay utility bills as a two-year moratorium on service cutoff ends.

Arizona Public Service Co., the Salt River Project, UniSource Energy Services, Tucson Electric Power and Southwest Gas will participate in a pilot project, the department announced Friday.

The money granted to eligible utility customers will be applied directly to their accounts as a lump sum once eligibility is confirmed, the department said in a statement. “After this initial pilot, DES intends to expand this payment model to all utility providers statewide."

Federal funding is paying for the state's assistance program, the Arizona Republic reported.

The utility companies will reach out to potentially eligible customers to ensure they qualify, and transmit the information to DES in order to receive a lump sum payment, the department said.

“With the utility companies’ collaboration, we will be able to distribute assistance to help customers keep their lights on and their accounts current.” DES Director Michael Wisehart said.

Friday was the end date of a s ervice cutoff moratorium approved by the Arizona Corporation Commission in 2019.