MINNEAPOLIS – Oct. 12, 2011 – CenterPoint Energy is reminding customers about their rights and responsibilities under the Cold Weather Rule (CWR), which protects residential customers from having their natural gas service disconnected between Oct. 15 and April 15, if they are having difficulty paying their natural gas bill. 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 establish a payment plan and
• Maintain their payment plan obligations
“The Cold Weather Rule is available for everyone and we are here to help our customers take the first step, which means they need to call us,” said Tal Centers, division regional vice president of Gas Operations. “Additionally, the CWR helps customers whose service is currently disconnected; therefore, customers need to call us now to establish a payment plan and get their natural gas service restored before the heating season begins.”
Customers who anticipate having trouble paying their natural gas bill in full, receive a Notice of Proposed Disconnection or need service reconnected are urged to call CenterPoint Energy to establish a payment plan. The 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 Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funding assistance in Minnesota, or
• Meet set income guidelines by the state of Minnesota but do not receive energy assistance, and
• Provide verifiable proof of income.
Call CenterPoint Energy to set up a payment plan today at 1-612-372-4680 or 1-800-729-6164. For additional information about the CWR 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 funds available to provide energy assistance and qualify them for payment plans.
• Stay Warm Minnesota is a website designed to provide energy efficiency and heating assistance programs offered 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 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 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 HSPtoday.com and CenterPointEnergy.com.