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Tucson, utilities offer relief on bills during pandemic

A new Tucson Utility Bill Assistance fund has been developed by Pima County and the City of Tucson for qualifying residents experiencing financial hardship resulting from the pandemic. 

Companies such as Tucson Electric Power, Tucson Water and Southwest Gas are participating in this aid. Funds will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis or until exhausted. Funds awarded can relieve up to 50% of overdue balances.    

Joseph Barrios of Tucson Electric Power said this new plan would automatically enroll customers in a payment plan as an opportunity to offer structure and avoid service disconnections and late fees. 

TEP has committed to $600,000 to the fund while their sister company UniSource pledged $100,000. 

It is estimated that TEP currently has over 3,300 customers with delinquent balances on their account with an average balance of $600 that is owed. 

Allocating $500,000 to the fund, Tucson Water also hopes to offer relief up to 50% for customers unable to pay their balances. 

Fernando Molina of Tucson Water said they are working with their customers in order to provide financial relief, setting up a procedure for those who are delinquent to not have their services shut off.  Customers have several options for assistance and may apply for payment extensions if needed. 

It is estimated that Tucson Water has 20,000 delinquent accounts with a total of $8.25 million in total balances due. 

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While some of the funds through federal financial relief programs through the CARES Act are set to expire on Dec. 31, Molina hopes that customers will begin thinking about catching up on their payments. 

To apply for the Tucson Utility Bill Assistance visit: https://www.tucsonaz.gov/UtilityBillsHelp

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