Working toward a better tomorrow

Working toward a better tomorrow

#We understand that the recent combined effects of higher-than-expected natural gas costs and the rate impacts from the first natural gas rate increase in fourteen years have resulted in a difficult situation for our customers. Natural gas commodity prices, like those of nearly all other commodities, have seen a significant increase this year. While we purchase natural gas ahead of the winter season to secure off-season rates, and these costs are the exact costs customers pay – with no mark up, they are still higher than recent years. In addition, our most recently-approved rate structure introduced rates which are less dependent on fixed charges and more so on the amount of natural gas used, or the volumetric portion, giving customers more control. However, these combined have created financial challenges for many.

We know you have questions and are looking to us for answers. With an increase of over 30% in the number of calls to our customer service contact center, our ability to respond in a timely manner has been challenged. Our staff has worked overtime for months while we continue to add new team members and contract agents to ensure we can be available when you need us. We also encourage the continued use of our self-service functionality via our online account access and our automated telephone system to handle most common transactions.

We have extended protection from disconnection for our Southwest Indiana customers through May 31, 2022. As the weather improves, energy usage traditionally slows, giving customers the opportunity to see lower bills and catch up on any past balances. We continue to review options to assist our customers and our communities.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Understand your bill (PDF)

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Important information for our customers and stakeholders#

At CenterPoint Energy, we are committed to delivering high-quality service and value to the southwestern Indiana community and its residents.

We recognize many factors contributing to increased natural gas bills this winter heating season, including higher natural gas prices nationwide and new rates that impact the portion of a customer’s bill that are more dependent on natural gas usage. As we head into warmer weather in the spring, usage will decrease and those charges will reduce.

CenterPoint Energy is dedicated to providing our customers with the safe, reliable service they expect in the most cost-effective manner possible.

Get the facts  (PDF)       

Why have my natural gas rates increased?

  • The increase to base rates implemented at the end of 2021 was the first in 14 years and followed the completion of CenterPoint Energy’s 7-year modernization plan. These significant investments included critical infrastructure upgrades to continue to deliver safe, reliable natural gas service to our customers, meet the needs of the region’s economic growth, and comply with federal regulations.
  • CenterPoint Energy Indiana South (CEI South) proposed to implement its rate change to customers by assessing a fixed monthly rate charge for residential customers of $35 with a volumetric rate increase of $0.36/ therm. This structure helps make bills less volatile from month to month.
  • The Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC) advocated for a lower fixed charge and a higher volumetric charge in the rate case. CEI South and the OUCC agreed in a settlement to increase the volumetric charge and decrease the fixed charge, resulting in an increase to the volumetric distribution charge to $0.60/therm. This modification led to a larger portion of customers’ bills being dependent on the amount of natural gas used (or volumetric charge) than would have been realized if CenterPoint Energy’s initial request for a larger fixed charge had been approved.
  • Citizens Action Coalition (CAC) participated in this proceeding and did not oppose the settlement. CEI South cannot change this settlement agreement without the consent of the OUCC and other parties and would not agree to such a change without increasing the fixed charge to appropriately recover the costs of serving customers.

What is CenterPoint doing to support customers?

  • CenterPoint Energy is suspending disconnections for its southwestern Indiana residential customers through May 31, 2022. Customers will continue to receive disconnect bills during this temporary suspension period, but their service will not be disconnected.
  • CenterPoint Energy is working on additional measures to assist customers and enhance the overall customer experience. The Call Center has implemented a virtual hold/call back system which will allow a customer to hold their place in the call queue without having to hold and the customer will receive a callback.
  • If additional payment assistance is needed, customers should contact CenterPoint Energy at 1-800-227-1376 to discuss options.

Why am I being charged a Distribution & Service Charge?

  • The Distribution & Service Charge refers to the amount customers pay for equipment and services that allow CenterPoint Energy to continue providing safe, reliable natural gas service. This includes pipeline maintenance, system enhancements, and technology investments that help manage energy use. Also included in this charge is the cost of transporting our customers’ natural gas based on the amount of natural gas used.

What is the Gas Cost Charge?

  • The Gas Cost Charge is based on customer usage and changes depending on how much natural gas is used and the variable market cost of natural gas. The cost of natural gas billed to the customer is not marked up. CenterPoint Energy is not making money off this cost and simply passes through the cost we pay for natural gas.

How can I get assistance paying my bill?

  • If you need payment assistance, we encourage you to contact your local Indiana Community Action Agency, which administers the Indiana Energy Assistance Program (EAP) for income-eligible natural gas and electric customers. They can provide intake information about the application process and program requirements.
  • For Indiana natural gas customers, the Universal Service Program (USP) provides a monthly discount on residential gas charges during the heating season.
  • To qualify for EAP and USP, your annual household income cannot exceed 60% of the State Median Income poverty guidelines, found here: in.gov/ihcda/homeowners-and-renters/

Why are CenterPoint Energy customer bills not itemized?

  • CenterPoint Energy provides an itemized breakdown of the bill to any customer who requests a breakdown of the charges. Year-to-date, we have received fewer than 30 requests for an itemized billing statement.
  • Customers can access this information by calling CenterPoint Energy Customer Service at 1-800-227- 1376 or requesting it online at CenterPointEnergy.com/itemizedbill. The details on how a customer may request an itemized breakdown of the bill is also included on each billing statement.
  • CenterPoint Energy’s customer bills comply with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) requirements. CenterPoint Energy continues to explore options for enhancing the customer experience, including evaluating providing additional detail to customer bills in the future.

Why is CenterPoint Energy proposing to build natural gas-powered electric generation turbines?

  • CenterPoint Energy needs to include two new combustion turbines as part of a portfolio of resources to replace coal-fired generation that needs to be retired. A thorough review of our generation portfolio demonstrated customers will pay less over the next 20 years by replacing some of our coal generation facilities — requiring significant capital investments in the near term to comply with environmental regulations — with new and more efficient technologies, such as renewable resources.
  • By replacing much of the coal-fired generation with significant renewables, including a large percentage of universal solar, we can achieve our goal of Net Zero carbon emissions by 2035 and save customers more than $320 million over a 20-year period, when compared to our current generation methods.
  • The combustion turbines will enable CenterPoint Energy to continue serving customers when the wind doesn’t blow or the sun isn’t shining and help protect customers from reliance on market volatility to ensure reliability. Traditionally, there has been an abundance of generating resources in the region to meet the expected load. However, as utilities continue to retire aging coal generators and transition to different generation sources, including renewables, the expected load continues to put downward pressure on the reserve margin (amount of generating resources needed to maintain reliability).
  • Extensive research and analysis performed as part of the 2020/2021 Integrated Resource Plan, which included a request for proposals on potential energy generation options, demonstrated that including the two combustion turbines along with other portfolios promotes low price and price stability for our customers over the next 20 years. As we continue to invest in our long-term plan for powering southwestern Indiana, we will continue to identify opportunities to minimize the impact of these investments on customers’ bills. We remain committed to delivering a balanced, cleaner and reliable energy mix, which will promote growth and vitality and best serve our region.

​Safety and System Reliability are Important

Pipeline replacement is important for the continued safe, reliable delivery of natural gas. Updated infrastructure helps reduce operational emissions which is an important part of our commitment to a cleaner environment. Since 2009, through an investment of $120 million, more than 215 of the planned 310 miles of bare steel and cast iron pipes have been replaced in Southwest Indiana. This effort has created local jobs, stimulated the local economy, reduced methane emissions, and helped to provide continued safety and reliability for our communities. Check our online map to see if we are working in your area.

#We are working together in pursuit of a Smart Energy Future influenced by customers. We are committed to continued reliability through a balanced and flexible energy mix and to helping to create a cleaner environment driven by increased renewables and significant carbon reductions, all while responsibly managing costs.