Problems with Salt River Project’s phone system Wednesday morning prevented numerous customers who use the utility’s app from avoiding a power shut-off.
The problems limited access to account information for users of the SRP Power mobile app, according to an SRP tweet early Wednesday. As a result, many customers who wanted to use the app to make sure they had enough credit on their accounts to avoid a power shut-off couldn’t do so.
SRP said more than 10,000 customers may have been affected, but the utility still was attempting to determine exactly how many were impacted.
SRP spokeswoman Patty Garcia-Likens said the problem stemmed from a technical issue with the phone system. She said it mainly affected the M-Power program, a prepaid app that lets customers access their account from their cellphone.
“The National Weather Service issued an excessive heat warning from Thursday until (Tuesday) night. Because the advisory ended, SRP’s heat moratorium was lifted, and M-Power meters with a balance due were disconnected,” she explained.
Garcia-Likens said it was unclear how many people were affected, but SRP believes the number of customers impacted was more than 10,000.
“We are investigating and will provide a number when available,” she said.
The M-Power program allows people to prepay into an account. A heat moratorium allows people to avoid having their power turned off if they use more power than they prepaid for while running air conditioning.
“Following a heat moratorium, it is not unusual for many prepay customers to build debt that they then pay off when the moratorium ends,” Garcia-Likens said. “Many M-Power customers on this program will run their balances down to zero and typically will reconnect within two hours.”
However, early Wednesday, the SRP phone system did not function properly and delayed some customers from reconnecting for as long as three hours, Garcia-Likens said.
“We are working to determine exactly how many were affected, but we believe the number exceeds 10,000,” she said.
Many customers still were able to pay their balances to get back in power via the call center, app or pay center.
There are about 159,000 customers enrolled in the voluntary M-Power program, Garcia-Likens said.
After SRP tweeted that it was trying to fix the issue, customers responded with complaints of hot houses, shut-down power and an inability to log in or make a payment.
Garcia-Likens added that such an incident is “an infrequent occurrence.”
Two hours after Salt River Project first tweeted about its technical difficulties, the utility updated its Twitter feed to say the problem had been resolved.
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