In the last few weeks, Arizona utilities have committed to contribute roughly $7 million to assist customers struggling to pay their monthly bill and to help nonprofits working on the frontlines during the coronavirus outbreak.
Southwest Gas is the latest to add $400,000 to efforts to support nonprofits in its service areas in Arizona, Nevada and parts of Southern California. The company also is making $1 million available to help homes and businesses unable to pay their natural gas bills right now.
“We operate in states where the economy leans very heavily on industries like hospitality and those businesses have been hit brutally,” said Sean Corbett, director of communications. “So, this is hopefully going to help people over this hump, however long it is.
“As we’re all at home and worrying about a lot of things, the last thing we want is our customers to worry about whether their shower’s going to be hot, the dryer dries clothes and the stove fires up when they turn it on each day.”
No one left without electricity, natural gas due to COVID-19
Southwest Gas, and the state’s electric utilities and cooperatives have vowed not to shut off any customer’s power for inability to pay or to charge penalties or late fees during the pandemic shutdown.
Arizona Public Service (APS), Salt River Project (SRP), Tucson Electric Power (TEP) and six electric cooperatives also entered into an agreement to work with one another to provide resources and coverage to ensure medical facilities, homes and businesses have reliable electricity during the pandemic.
Southwest Gas has made a similar vow to customers, who already benefit from the low cost of gas, said Corbett.
“Natural gas is consistently one of the lowest bills anyone will pay when compared to cable television, their electricity and other utilities out there,” he said.
In Arizona, Southwest Gas’ program to help customers is administered by the nonprofit Wildfire, formerly known as the Arizona Community Action Association. Customers seeking aid can contact the agency at: Wildfire Energy Assistance.
They can also call Southwest Gas to discuss flexible payment options at (877) 860-6020.
For additional information on programs and assistance, go to: SW Gas Special Programs
APS gives $2.75 million to help nonprofits, Navajo Nation, small businesses
APS, the oldest electric utility in the state, has committed $2.75 million to help those most affected, including the Navajo Nation in Northern Arizona.
A total of $1.5 million is being used to help support customers unable to pay their electric bills. The rest is going to help small businesses and nonprofits like Arizona Community Foundation and United Way and the Arizona Together initiative.
Local chambers of commerce and businesses also are receiving a portion, $250,000, to be used for:
- Mini-grants to small businesses administered through local partners such as Local First and the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
- The Arizona Small Business Association to help small businesses secure funds through the CARES Act
Customers seeking resources or assistance, can go to: aps.com/support or call (602) 371-7171 or toll-free at (800) 253-9405 .
Residential customers can also find a range of resources at APS COVID-19 Resources.
SRP donates $1.25 million to assist customers, nonprofits, small business
SRP’s publicly elected board recently approved $1.25 million in assistance for residential and small business customers having difficulty paying their bills.
Of that, the board approved $500,000 for local non-profits including the Valley of the Sun United Way, Mesa United Way and the Arizona Community Foundation. The funds will help these agencies and several others to provide basic needs services and emergency assistance related to COVID-19.
SRP is also an initial sponsor of Local First Arizona’s Small Business Relief Fund. This initiative provides immediate financial relief to Arizona’s smallest business owners.
“More than 80 percent of local nonprofits are already feeling the effects of this health crisis,” said SRP President David Rousseau. “It is important that SRP and others step up to the plate at this difficult time and provide assistance to the communities and customers we serve that will help improve lives.”
Customers needing assistance, can visit SRP’s Here to Help website at: SRP Here to Help
Tucson Electric Power and UniSource Energy Services donating $1 million
Tucson Electric Power and UniSource Energy Services are donating a combined $1 million for bill payment assistance and other coronavirus relief efforts.
The companies are contributing $500,000 to the COVID-19 Community Support Fund established by the Community Foundation of Southern Arizona (CFSA) to support charities experiencing increased service demands from vulnerable populations during this public health crisis. Of that amount, $350,000 will be directed to Tucson-area agencies and $150,000 will benefit communities served by UniSource.