Hobbs Demands Accountability From Utilities Amid Historic Heat Wave

Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

By Camaron Stevenson

July 21, 2023

Eighteen people have died from the heat in Maricopa County so far this summer, and 69 other deaths are being investigated as being a result of extreme heat.

Four of those deaths happened indoors because of nonfunctioning air conditioners. We’ve seen this before: in 2018, two people died from heat exposure in their homes because APS turned off their power.

RELATED: Researchers Applied Phoenix’s 2006 Heat Wave to Today’s Climate. The Results Were Catastrophic.

Temperatures are expected to stay high for at least another week and due to climate change, will likely continue to rise in the coming years.

To address this, Governor Katie Hobbs sent a letter to all of the state’s public utilities demanding they put down on paper their heat preparedness plans so people stop dying.

Here’s what utilities need to address:

1. Disconnects: What are they doing to prevent power disconnections during this historic heat wave?

2. Grid Security: What are their plans for grid outages, including mitigation, rapid response repairs, and customer communications?

3. Emergency Response: In the event of an emergency outage, what plans are in place to assist impacted customers?

4. Customers behind on bills: What services are available for customers who fall late on their payments during the heatwave?

5. Community Service: Is the company providing additional community services to mitigate the impact of this historic heat wave?

Hobbs invited the utilities to join her in a roundtable discussion on the topic of heat so the group could plan together and set goals for the future

RELATED: Deadly Heat Waves Threaten Elderly Arizonans

She also announced this week a crackdown on businesses that aren’t doing what they can to prevent heat-related illness in the workplace. This comes after reports that UPS trucks don’t have air conditioning, construction workers are laboring all day without shade, and service workers aren’t given breaks to rest or rehydrate.

Author

  • Camaron Stevenson

    Camaron is the Founding Editor and Chief Political Correspondent for The Copper Courier, and has worked as a journalist in Phoenix for over a decade. He also teaches multimedia journalism at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

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