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Requests to raise electric, gas rates in Tucson stalled amid coronavirus crisis

Requests to raise electric, gas rates in Tucson stalled amid coronavirus crisis

From the April's Tucson-area coronavirus coverage: 1,200+ Pima County cases, stay-home order extended series
Southwest Gas

Southwest Gas Corp. is asking to increase rates by nearly 20% or an average of $7 per month.

Tucson consumers don’t have to worry about their electric or natural-gas rates increasing anytime soon.

Proceedings on two pending rate-increase requests filed by Tucson Electric Power Co. and Southwest Gas Corp. have been extended by 60 days by the Arizona Corporation Commission because of the coronavirus pandemic.

TEP filed in April 2019 for new rates that would increase home power bills by an average 7% starting in May, but consumer advocates have said the company deserves far less.

After weeks of hearings in January and February, additional hearings before an administrative law judge who will make a recommendation to the full commission were scheduled to resume on April 22.

But those final hearings have been put off until late June and the deadline for the case to be decided by the commission has been pushed to October.

Southwest Gas Corp. filed a rate request in May 2019 that would boost the average home gas bill by about 13%, or $4.75, per month, but later amended its application to increase rates by nearly 20% or an average of $7 per month.

Hearings in the Southwest Gas case, originally set to start in February and later put off until April, have been postponed indefinitely.

A conference call is scheduled in early May to determine how to proceed with the case, Corporation Commission filings show.

The commission, which in addition to utilities regulates corporations, securities and pipeline and railroad safety, has moved to teleconferencing and videoconferencing for its meetings, and has stopped taking business filings in its offices, moving those services entirely online for now.

Local utilities have said they will not disconnect customers for nonpayment or charge late fees during the national emergency, which has led to mass closures and layoffs especially in the travel, bar, restaurant and retail industries.

Contact senior reporter David Wichner at dwichner@tucson.com or 573-4181. On Twitter:

@dwichner. On Facebook:

Facebook.com/DailyStarBiz.

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