MINNEAPOLIS – Oct. 9, 2013 – CenterPoint Energy is reminding customers about their rights and responsibilities under the Cold Weather Rule (CWR), which protects residential customers who are experiencing difficulty paying their natural gas bill from having their service disconnected between Oct. 15 and April 15, 2014. 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 us.
“We are here to help our customers understand their rights and responsibilities under 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 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, received a Notice of Proposed Disconnection or need gas service reconnected are all 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 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.
• 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 competitive natural gas sales and 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 58.3 percent limited partner interest in a midstream partnership it jointly controls with OGE Energy Corp. with operations in major natural gas and liquids-rich producing areas of Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana. With more than 8,700 employees, CenterPoint Energy and its predecessor companies have been in business for more than 135 years. The utility also operates a non-regulated business in Minnesota called Home Service Plus®. For more information, visit CenterPointEnergy.com.