MINNEAPOLIS – February 17, 2011 – CenterPoint Energy representatives are available to refer customers to agencies who may qualify for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) grant process, to pay for past due natural gas bills and avoid service disconnection. This year, the state of Minnesota’s funding level is equal to last year and funds are anticipated to be depleted by May.
“Due to limited funds, we urge customers to apply now for energy assistance before funds run out,” said Greg Schirmers, energy assistance program manager for CenterPoint Energy.
Customers who provide proof of income and meet income guidelines set by the state of Minnesota at or below 50 percent of the state median income are eligible. The program, funded by U.S. Department of Human Services and administered by the state Office of Energy Security, provides grants based on household size, income, fuel type and energy usage costs. The program provides direct payment to the customer’s energy provider.
By taking a few steps now, customers can avoid service shut-offs, and save energy and money:
Call CenterPoint Energy:
• Customers who are having trouble or anticipate difficulty paying their natural gas bills can call us now to develop a payment plan at 1-612-372-4680 or 1-800-729-6164 or visit the company’s website at www.centerpointenergy.com/paybill.
Join CenterPoint Energy’s Budget Billing Plan:
• Customers should also consider getting on CenterPoint Energy’s Budget Plan. By spreading your payments evenly throughout the year, you have a predictable, levelized payment each month and avoid high winter bill peaks. To learn more, visit the company’s website at www.centerpointenergy.com/budgetplan.
Schedule a low-cost energy audit:
• Receive information about ways to reduce energy use and lower energy bills by visiting www.centerpointenergy.com/energyaudit.
Obtain state information on how to apply:
• The Stay Warm Minnesota campaign was launched to help every Minnesota family experience a safe and comfortable winter. Visit www.staywarm.mn.gov for useful information regarding energy efficiency and heating assistance programs provided by the federal and state government, private industry, nonprofits and energy utilities. Minnesota residents must complete a Minnesota Energy Programs application form online or obtain an application by calling 1-800-657-3710.
Customers interested in helping others pay their bill can support the Salvation Army’s HeatShare program. Visit www.Heatshare_MN.org to make a donation.
CenterPoint Energy, Inc., headquartered in Houston, Texas, is a domestic energy delivery company that includes electric transmission and distribution, natural gas distribution, competitive natural gas sales and services, interstate pipelines and field services operations. The company serves more than five million metered customers primarily in Arkansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Texas. Assets total more than $19 billion. With about 8,800 employees, CenterPoint Energy and its predecessor companies have been in business for more than 135 years. In Minnesota, CenterPoint Energy is the state’s largest natural gas distribution utility, serving about 800,000 customers in 260 communities. The utility also operates a non-regulated business in Minnesota called Home Service Plus®. For more information, visit www.CenterPointEnergy.com.