MINNEAPOLIS – Oct. 12, 2015 – CenterPoint Energy is reminding customers about certain rights and their responsibilities as it relates to the Cold Weather Rule (CWR), which protects residential customers experiencing difficulty paying their natural gas bill from having their natural gas service disconnected between Oct. 15 and April 15, 2016. While the CWR does not prevent customers from being disconnected for nonpayment, it does provide customers extra protection as defined in the CWR, but residential customers must contact CenterPoint Energy.
“We are here to help our customers understand the Minnesota Cold Weather Rule,” said Joe Vortherms, vice president of Gas Operations in Minnesota. “The rule not only provides additional protection for customers who anticipate having trouble paying their gas bill, it also applies to customers whose service is currently disconnected. These customers should call us now to establish a payment plan to get their natural gas service restored as the heating season begins.”
Customers who anticipate having trouble paying their entire natural gas bill, have received a Notice of Proposed Disconnection or need gas service reconnected are all urged to call CenterPoint Energy to establish a payment plan. A payment plan will include what is owed as well as the amount to be billed and will take into consideration a customer’s financial situation and any other special circumstances. The payment plan must also be agreeable to both the customer and CenterPoint Energy. If an agreed-upon payment plan cannot be reached, customers have a right to appeal under the CWR.
Under the CWR, special payment terms are available to customers who:
- Apply for and receive Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funding assistance in Minnesota, or
- Meet income guidelines set by the state of Minnesota, and provide proof of income.
Other helpful information:
- In addition to calling CenterPoint Energy to discuss and establish a payment plan, company representatives are available to refer customers to social service agencies who may have energy assistance funds.
- Customers can also sign up for CenterPoint Energy’s Average Monthly Billing Plan, which spreads natural gas costs throughout the year, helping customers avoid payment peaks. Customers can sign up online through My Account at CenterPointEnergy.com/Register or by calling CenterPoint Energy.
- The Minnesota Department of Commerce maintains a website that provides information on energy efficiency and heating assistance programs.
- Customers interested in helping others pay their natural gas bill can support the Salvation Army’s HeatShare program. Visit The Salvation Army’s website to make a donation.
CenterPoint Energy, Inc., headquartered in Houston, Texas, is a domestic energy delivery company that includes electric transmission & distribution, natural gas distribution and energy services operations. The company serves more than five million metered customers primarily in Arkansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Texas. The company also owns a 55.4 percent limited partner interest in Enable Midstream Partners, a publicly traded master limited partnership it jointly controls with OGE Energy Corp., which owns, operates and develops natural gas and crude oil infrastructure assets. With more than 7,400 employees, CenterPoint Energy and its predecessor companies have been in business for more than 140 years. The utility also operates a non-regulated business in Minnesota called Home Service Plus®
. For more information, visit the website at CenterPointEnergy.com