Carbon monoxide exposure incidents increase 10 percent during winter
CenterPoint Energy and Minneapolis Fire team up to keep your family safe
2016-01-21T06:00:00Z

MINNEAPOLIS – January 21, 2016 – Carbon monoxide (CO) incidents increase by more than 10 percent during the winter months.  CO is often called the silent killer; it is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas which when inhaled, enters the blood stream preventing proper absorption of oxygen, leading to illness and even death.  According to the Minnesota State Fire Marshal Division, municipal fire departments across Minnesota respond to approximately 2,000 CO incidents or more each year; including serious injury or death. 

 “Typically, CO is created when fuels such as gasoline, wood, coal, natural gas, propane, oil or methane don’t burn completely,” said Tim Boettcher, master service technician for CenterPoint Energy’s Home Service Plus®. “Home heating and cooking equipment that burn fuel inadequately can be sources of carbon monoxide.” 

 “According to the Minnesota Poison Control Center, there are thousands of deaths each year as a result of carbon monoxide, making it the leading cause of death due to poisoning,” said Bryan Tyner, Minneapolis Fire Department Assistant Chief. “Additionally, our response to non-fire related CO incidents increase by 10 percent during the winter, so the time for prevention is now.”

CenterPoint Energy together with the Minneapolis Fire Department reminds the public of important safety tips about how to recognize the symptoms and signs of CO exposure
  • Flu-like symptoms including headaches, nausea, fatigue, confusion and dizziness that disappear when a person breathes fresh air.
  • ​Unusually high indoor humidity with persistent heavy condensation on walls and windows and soot or water collecting near a burner or vent can be an indication of CO.
  • Stuffy, stale or noticeably poor indoor air quality.
If you suspect CO exposure, leave the area immediately taking your pets with you and tell others to do the same. Once you are safely away from the area, call 911 to report the suspected CO incident.
 
Treatment for CO exposure is fresh air or oxygen. Severe exposure requires medical attention. Do not return to your home or building until the source of the problem is discovered and corrected.  

To prevent CO build up:​
  • As required by law, purchase a CO detection device with an audible alarm and digital display and install it no more than 10 feet from each sleeping quarter. Fuel-burning appliances, equipment and combustible engines all produce CO that can reach dangerous levels if improperly operated or maintained.   
  • ​Have fuel-burning equipment regularly checked by a qualified technician (most manufacturers recommend annual check-ups). 
  • ​​Never operate an automobile, lawn mower or any combustion engine, barbecue grill or similar equipment in an enclosed area such as your home, garage, tent, fish house, trailer or place of business, even with the door open. Any pollutants in the air from the garage, such as a car engine running, can travel into the structure and CO can accumulate.
  • Never leave a fire smoldering in a fireplace. 
  • Check frequently for visible signs of problems, such as high indoor humidity and soot or water collecting near a burner or vent.  
  • Equipment that uses natural gas should produce a clear blue flame. A yellow or orange flame may indicate a qualified technician should check for a potential problem with the equipment.
  • Provide adequate combustion air for all your appliances.
  • Be certain fuel-burning equipment properly vents to the outdoors. 
  • Keep vents, fresh air intakes and chimneys clear of debris or other obstructions and check for vent pipes that have gaps, leaks, spaces or are rusted through.
  • Never attempt to heat a room with a range, oven or clothes dryer 

For more information about natural gas safety, visit www.centerpointenergy.com/besafe​  or call 612-372-4727 or 1-800-245-2377.



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.

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MPHA, SRC, and CenterPoint Energy team up for extensive weatherization of Glendale Townhomes

​The Minneapolis Public Housing Authority (MPHA), Sustainable Resources Center, Inc. (SRC), and CenterPoint Energy are pleased to announce funding and a timeline for winter weatherization and energy efficiency improvements across all 28 buildings of the Glendale Townhomes.

Glendale is a public housing development of 184 family townhomes in the Prospect Park neighborhood of Minneapolis. It was built in 1952, without modern design or materials ideal for Minnesota winters. In June, SRC weatherized an eight-townhome Glendale building as a pilot project—including wall and attic insulation, vent fans, and weather-stripping—at a cost of approximately $8,000 to $10,000 per unit.

"The pilot was a success in terms of what we learned, and the immediate improvements in comfort we were able to achieve for residents," said Greg Russ, MPHA's Executive Director. "Knowing that, we could push forward with SRC and CenterPoint Energy to find a way to extend the work to every home." Financial support for the project comes from CenterPoint Energy's Conservation Improvement Program (CIP) and the U.S. Department of Energy's "Weatherization Assistance Program" (WAP), which is administered by the Minnesota Department of Commerce.

Based upon the findings from the pilot, SRC anticipates weatherizing an additional 10 to 12 buildings by the end of the year, with the remainder in 2018. SRC provides free home energy upgrades to hundreds of income-eligible homeowners and renters in Hennepin County each year. The Glendale project alone will reach more than 600 people.

"We are proud to be a part of this project and partner with MPHA and SRC to make a positive difference for our neighbors," said Todd Berreman, director of energy efficiency for CenterPoint Energy.  "We look forward to completing the work in the remaining Glendale townhomes and providing a more pleasant and energy-efficient living environment for the residents of this community."

SRC will conduct an energy audit of each building, identifying priorities for each unit. Along with insulation and ventilation, enhancements could include cleaning, repair, or replacement of furnaces or water heaters, and installation of energy-efficient light bulbs.

The three partners are grateful to Minneapolis Ward 2 City Council Member Cam Gordon for helping them bridge the unique hurdles posed by this large-scale project.  

"Glendale has provided home and community for low-income families for 65 years, and we intend for it do so for the next 65," said MPHA Executive Director Russ. "Even as we look to the long-term preservation of Glendale, this major investment with SRC and CenterPoint will make a meaningful difference for families today."

Call CenterPoint Energy now for Cold Weather Rule protection

Minneapolis – Oct. 9, 2017 – 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, 2017 and April 15, 2018. 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 to set up a payment plan.

"We want to make sure all of our customers understand the Minnesota Cold Weather Rule. It helps those customers who may have trouble paying their natural gas bill during cold winter months," said Brad Tutunjian, vice president of Gas Operations in Minnesota.  "But, it also helps customers whose service is currently disconnected. I encourage those customers to call us now at 1-800-245-2377 to qualify under the Rule. We'll work together to establish a payment plan so their service is turned back when 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.

Call CenterPoint Energy to set up a payment plan at 1-612-372-4680 or 1-800-729-6164. For additional information, please visit CenterPointEnergy.com/ReadyForWinter.

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; and
  • 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 150 years. The utility also operates a non-regulated business in Minnesota called Home Service Plus®. For more information, visit the website at CenterPointEnergy.com.

CenterPoint Energy prepares for TS Nate; urges customers to be prepared for potential flooding and issues important natural gas safety tips

Houston – Oct. 6, 2017 – As the Gulf Coast braces for Tropical Storm Nate, CenterPoint Energy is closely monitoring and preparing for the storm. The company has developed the following pre- and post-storm natural gas safety tips that customers should follow:

Before the storm:

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  • Be alert for the smell of natural gas. If you smell gas, leave the area immediately on foot and tell others to leave, too.
  • If you smell gas, do not turn the lights on or off, smoke, strike a match, use a cell phone or operate anything that might cause a spark, including a flashlight or a generator.
  • Do not attempt to turn natural gas valves on or off. Once safely away from the area, call CenterPoint Energy at 888-876-5786. The company will send a trained service technician.

After the storm:

  • If your home was flooded, call a licensed plumber or gas appliance technician to inspect your appliances and gas piping to make sure they are in good operating condition before calling CenterPoint Energy to reconnect service. This includes outdoor gas appliances including pool heaters, gas grills and gas lights.
  • Call 811, the nationwide Call Before You Dig number before cleaning debris, digging on your property or to locate underground natural gas lines and other underground utility lines.
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Visit CenterPoint Energy's weather safety pages and follow the company @cnpalerts and Facebook.com/CenterPoint Energy.

CenterPoint Energy urges customers to stay safe during clean-up

HOUSTON - September 1, 2017 – The safety of our employees and our customers is our top priority. We urge customers to follow the below safety tips as clean-up efforts continue following Hurricane Harvey.

ELECTRIC SAFETY TIPS

Stay away from downed power lines. Be especially mindful of downed lines that could be hidden in flood waters and debris, and treat all downed lines as if they are energized or “live.” Boats being used in high water can expose you to danger from power lines at their normal height. Be aware and stay away. DO NOT attempt to remove a tree limb or other debris from a power line. Once away from the area, call 713-207-2222 and we will respond as soon as it is safe.

Power restoration

• If you find that water has risen above your electrical outlets, you must call a licensed electrician before you turn on the main circuit breaker or turn on the power for any connected appliances, such as televisions, computers and more.

• Your electrician will assess the damage and will then need to ensure that your home’s electrical system is safe to receive power.

• Your electrician may need to either call CenterPoint Energy or direct you to call us at 713-207-2222 to ensure that it is safe to perform electrical work. CenterPoint Energy may temporarily disconnect service to your home to allow work to be performed.

• Even if you or your electrician calls and asks us to remotely disconnect service, there still could be voltage present. Therefore, we will ask the electrician and you to confirm you want us to proceed before going forward, and will remind you to take precautions around your breakers.

• CenterPoint Energy is responsible for and will make repairs to the electric delivery system up to where it connects to your home or business. However, you are responsible for repairs if there is damage to the meter box or weatherhead (where the line enters your home through a pipe).

• If the meter box or weatherhead is damaged, our crews will not be able to re-establish service. If in doubt, contact a licensed electrician now to make an inspection and any necessary repairs.

Appliance and equipment safety

• All electrical appliances and electronic equipment that have been submerged in water must be dried thoroughly for at least one week. Then, you should have them checked by a qualified repair professional before turning them on.

• Do not try to repair a flood-damaged appliance as it could result in electrical shock or death. Attempting to restart it could result in further damage and costly repairs. Page 2 of 2 For more information contact Olivia Ross 713.207.3288 24-hour media access 713.619.5143 For Immediate Release

• If the outside unit of your air conditioning system has been under water, the controls may have mud and water accumulated in them. Have the unit inspected by a qualified air conditioning technician before using it.

• Never connect a portable electric generator or a motor home/RV generator directly to your home’s electrical system during a power outage. Electricity could back feed into the power lines and endanger repair workers.

Call 811 before any digging is started – it’s the law. Striking buried utility lines can cause serious injury or death. Alert participating utility companies, such as electric, gas, cable and phone about planned digging so they can mark the appropriate location of their underground lines. Please be prepared for a longer than usual wait time during the next few weeks, and do not dig until the lines have been marked.

NATURAL GAS SAFETY TIPS

• Do not turn off your natural gas service at the meter; doing so could allow water to enter the natural gas lines.

• Be alert for the smell of natural gas - It smells like rotten eggs. If you do smell natural gas, leave the area immediately on foot and tell others to leave, too.

• Do NOT turn on your lights, smoke, strike a match, use a cell phone or operate anything that might cause a spark, including a flashlight or a generator.

• Do not attempt to turn natural gas valves on or off. Once you are safely away from the area, call 911 and 888-876-5786. Once it is safe, CenterPoint Energy will send a trained service technician.

• If your home was flooded, call a licensed plumber or gas appliance technician to inspect your appliances and gas piping to make sure they are in good operating condition before calling CenterPoint Energy to reconnect service. This includes outdoor gas appliances including pool heaters, gas grills and gas lights.

Call 811 before any digging is started – it’s the law. Striking buried utility lines can cause serious injury or death. Alert participating utility companies, such as electric, gas, cable and phone about planned digging so they can mark the appropriate location of their underground lines. Please be prepared for a longer than usual wait time during the next few weeks, and do not dig until the lines have been marked.

• Be aware of where your natural gas meter is located. As debris is put out for heavy trash pickup, make sure it is placed away from the meter. In many areas the meter may be located near the curb. If debris is near a gas meter, the mechanized equipment used by trash collectors could pull up the meter, damaging it and causing a potentially hazardous situation. If this happens, leave the area immediately and call CenterPoint Energy at 888- 876-5786.

• Visit CenterPointEnergy.com/StormCenter for natural gas safety tips and other resources.

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CenterPoint Energy donates $1.25 million to assist Hurricane Harvey recovery and relief efforts

Houston – Sept. 1, 2017 – CenterPoint Energy today announced that it is committing $1.25 million to Hurricane Harvey recovery and relief efforts. CenterPoint Energy’s contributions include a $250,000 donation each to the American Red Cross for Hurricane Harvey relief efforts, the City of Houston Mayor’s Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund and the United Way of Greater Houston disaster relief efforts.

“Our thoughts are with everyone impacted by this unprecedented catastrophe,” said Scott Prochazka, president and chief executive officer of CenterPoint Energy. “CenterPoint Energy has been a part of these communities for more than 150 years. The safety and well-being of our communities and employees impacted by Hurricane Harvey remain our top priorities.”

CenterPoint Energy is also donating $300,000 to support employees across its service territory significantly impacted by the storm. The company has also established an employee assistance fund, CenterPoint Energy Employees 1st Fund, to collect employee donations and match them up to a total of $200,000. “We take pride in lending a helping hand to those in need, which is a core part of our culture,” added Prochazka.

In addition to the charitable contributions, employee volunteerism is an important part of CenterPoint Energy’s role in communities throughout its service territory. Employee volunteers provide their time and energy to assist with altruistic initiatives. In 2016, employees, retirees and their families and friends contributed 237,500 hours to their communities, and the company donated more than 2,000 grants to qualified nonprofit organizations.

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 54.1 percent of the common and subordinated units representing limited partner interests 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 7,700 employees, CenterPoint Energy and its predecessor companies have been in business for more than 150 years. For more information, please visit www.CenterPointEnergy.com.

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