CenterPoint warns natural gas bills are expected to increase this winter
EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - CenterPoint is one of several utilities reminding customers they could see a significant increase in their natural gas bills when compared to last winter.
They say customers can expect to pay on average $146 a month, over the 5-month heating season of November through March. By comparison, last year’s average bill amount for the 5-month period was around $75 a month.
“In the event we experience normal winter weather this heating season, coupled with a significant increase in natural gas prices, customers should expect an increase in their bills. However, even with higher natural gas prices this winter heating season, bills should still remain lower than customers experienced in the late 2000s when prices for natural gas were at record levels nationwide,” said Richard Leger, Vice President of Natural Gas Distribution, Indiana and Ohio. “Customers will also begin to see bill adjustments resulting from the recently approved natural gas rate review, which recovers needed natural gas infrastructure investments to ensure continued safe and reliable natural gas delivery.”
They say CenterPoint Energy utilities are not allowed to markup, nor profit, from the purchase and sale of natural gas. Only gas costs actually incurred and approved by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission are recovered from customers.
CenterPoint Energy has in place a number of tools to help customers manage their energy bills.
- Budget Bill: Under this billing plan, a customer’s estimated costs for a year of gas service are spread in equal monthly bill amounts for the year. This leveling of monthly bill amounts reduces the need to pay the full amount in the winter and spreads some of those higher bill charges into the non-heating months. Amounts are adjusted each summer for actual costs, and the customer’s credit or amount due rolls into the next Budget Bill payment for the next 12-month period. Customers can enroll for free on www.centerpointenergy.com or by calling 1-800-227-1376.
- Energy Assistance Program (EAP): State and federal utility assistance dollars are available for income-eligible customers. Those that fall within 60 percent of state median income should visit their local community action agency to sign up for the EAP. To apply for the EAP, customers should call 1-800-872-0371 to locate their nearest community action agency. Customers may also apply any time at the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority website at https://ihcda.rhsconnect.com/.
- Universal Service Program (USP): All eligible natural gas heating customers who apply and qualify for EAP will automatically be enrolled in the USP, which provides additional gas bill reductions that range from 15 to 32 percent of the total bill received (not including EAP benefits) in the months of December through May. The USP, which has been in place since 2005 is the result of a collaborative effort by CenterPoint Energy, Citizens Energy Group, the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor, Citizens Action Coalition and a group representing industrial customers. The program provides about $1.5 million in assistance each year to roughly 18,000 CenterPoint Energy Indiana customers, including crisis assistance dollars, which target qualified low-income and working-poor households that need additional help to get reconnected and/or maintain heat throughout the upcoming winter.
- Share the Warmth: Those wanting to help the less fortunate with their energy bills can contribute to Share the Warmth, a nonprofit organization that assists income-eligible customers with home weatherization services. Donations may be tax-deductible and can be made with a checking or savings account number and routing number at www.sharethewarmthinc.com. Customers who pay their bills at www.centerpointenergy.com may donate through a bill round-up feature. In 2020, customers across CenterPoint Energy’s Indiana and Ohio territories used this feature to direct more than $200,000 in donations to Share the Warmth, which was matched by CenterPoint Energy.
- Energy efficiency resources: CenterPoint Energy offers energy efficiency tips, appliance rebates and energy-saving tools to help customers lower their natural gas bills. All Indiana residential and small commercial natural gas customers are eligible. Visit www.centerpointenergy.com or call 1-866-240-8476 for a list of rebates, qualifying appliances and energy efficiency tips.
Copyright 2021 WFIE. All rights reserved.