MINNEAPOLIS - Oct. 05, 2009 - CenterPoint Energy is reminding customers about their rights and responsibilities under the Cold Weather Rule (CWR), which protects residential customers having difficulty paying their natural gas bill from having their natural gas service disconnected from October 15 through April 15. It does not completely stop winter disconnection but it does provide customers extra protection as defined in the rule. To obtain extra protection, residential customers must:
- Contact CenterPoint Energy to establish a payment plan and
- Maintain their payment plan obligations
“We want our customers to be aware of the steps they need to take under the Minnesota Cold Weather Rule,” said David Baker, vice president of operations for CenterPoint Energy. “If a customer is disconnected, they need to establish a payment plan to get their natural gas service restored and continue their payment plan to avoid having their natural gas service disconnected in the future.”
If a customer anticipates having trouble paying their natural gas bill in full, receives a Notice of Proposed Disconnection or needs service reconnected, they are urged to call CenterPoint Energy to enter into a payment plan. The payment plan will cover what is owed and the amount to be billed and will take into consideration a customer’s financial circumstances 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 rule.
All Customers are eligible for protection under the CWR, but they must contact CenterPoint Energy to establish a payment plan. Company representatives are available to refer customers to agencies that may be able to help customers pay their natural gas bill and qualify them for payment plans. “We want to ensure our customers are prepared for the winter heating season ahead by helping them understand the conditions that will qualify them for a payment plan,” Baker added.
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
To qualify for CWR protection, contact CenterPoint Energy to set up a payment plan today at 1-612-372-4680 or 1-800-729-6164. For additional information about the Cold Weather Rule please visit the web site at CenterPointEnergy.com/readyforwinter.
Obtain state information:
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.
If customers are interested in helping others pay their bill, they 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 nearly $19 billion. With about 8,800 employees, CenterPoint Energy and its predecessor companies have been in business for more than 130 years. In Minnesota, CenterPoint Energy is the state’s largest natural gas distribution utility, serving nearly 790,000 customers in 260 communities. The utility also operates a non-regulated business in Minnesota called Home Service Plus®. For more information, visit the Web site at www.CenterPointEnergy.com.
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