Natural gas bills expected to increase when compared to last winter
2021-10-14T05:00:00Z

Indianapolis – Oct. 14, 2021 CenterPoint Energy's Indiana North natural gas territory announced today customers may see a significant increase in their natural gas bills when compared to those of last winter, assuming normal winter weather, due primarily to natural gas market conditions.

  • Increase primarily driven by rise in natural gas prices
  • Higher costs resulting from global demand, lower production
  • Company purchases natural gas on behalf of its customers, does not mark up or profit from the purchase and sale of natural gas
  • Customers encouraged to prepare now for managing their energy bills

This year based upon expected natural gas commodity costs and normal winter weather, customers can expect to pay on average $130 a month, over the five-month heating season of November through March. By comparison, last year's average bill amount for the 5-month period was around $88 a month.

"In the event we experience normal winter weather this heating season, coupled with a significant increase in natural gas prices, customers should expect an increase in their bills," said Richard Leger, Vice President of Natural Gas Distribution, Indiana and Ohio. "Even with higher natural gas prices this winter heating season, bills should still remain lower than customers experienced in the late 2000s when prices for natural gas were at record levels nationwide."

CenterPoint Energy utilities are not allowed to markup, nor profit, from the purchase and sale of natural gas. Only gas costs actually incurred and approved by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission are recovered from customers. Natural gas is a commodity bought and sold in a national deregulated market and prices fluctuate daily due to supply and demand pressures. CenterPoint Energy purchases natural gas on behalf of its customers and then passes those costs on to customers through the gas cost adjustment, which is listed on the bill as "Gas Cost Charge."

The Energy Information Administration continues to recognize natural gas as the most affordable heating source, according to a report issued yesterday. In fact, CenterPoint Energy gas customers who heated their homes with natural gas last year saved up to $865 compared to those who heat with propane and $395 to $1,100 compared to those who heat with an electric heat pump or electric furnace, respectively.

It is important to remember bills will vary by customer depending on the size and age of the home, number of gas appliances, number in the household, thermostat settings and levels of insulation. Customers are encouraged to still implement energy efficiency measures and find ways to use less natural gas to lower bills even further.

CenterPoint Energy has in place a number of tools to help customers manage their energy bills.

  • Budget Bill: Under this billing plan, a customer's estimated costs for a year of gas service are spread in equal monthly bill amounts for the year. This leveling of monthly bill amounts reduces the need to pay the full amount in the winter and spreads some of those higher bill charges into the non-heating months. Amounts are adjusted each summer for actual costs, and the customer's credit or amount due rolls into the next Budget Bill payment for the next 12-month period. Customers can enroll for free on www.centerpointenergy.com or by calling 1-800-227-1376.
  • Energy Assistance Program (EAP):  State and federal utility assistance dollars are available for income-eligible customers. Those that fall within 60 percent of state median income should visit their local community action agency to sign up for the EAP. To apply for the EAP, customers should call 1-800-872-0371 to locate their nearest community action agency. Customers may also apply any time at the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority website at https://ihcda.rhsconnect.com/.
  • Universal Service Program (USP): All eligible natural gas heating customers who apply and qualify for EAP will automatically be enrolled in the USP, which provides additional gas bill reductions that range from 15 to 32 percent of the total bill received (not including EAP benefits) in the months of December through May. The USP, which has been in place since 2005 is the result of a collaborative effort by CenterPoint Energy, Citizens Energy Group, the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor, Citizens Action Coalition and a group representing industrial customers. The program provides about $1.5 million in assistance each year to roughly 18,000 CenterPoint Energy Indiana customers, including crisis assistance dollars, which target qualified low-income and working-poor households that need additional help to get reconnected and/or maintain heat throughout the upcoming winter.
  • Share the Warmth: Those wanting to help the less fortunate with their energy bills can contribute to Share the Warmth, a nonprofit organization that assists income-eligible customers with home weatherization services. Donations may be tax-deductible and can be made with a checking or savings account number and routing number at www.sharethewarmthinc.com. Customers who pay their bills at www.centerpointenergy.com may donate through a bill round-up feature. In 2020, customers across CenterPoint Energy's Indiana and Ohio territories used this feature to direct more than $200,000 in donations to Share the Warmth, which was matched by CenterPoint Energy.
     
  • Energy efficiency resources: CenterPoint Energy offers energy efficiency tips, appliance rebates and energy-saving tools to help customers lower their natural gas bills. All Indiana residential and small commercial natural gas customers are eligible. Visit www.centerpointenergy.com or call 1-866-240-8476 for a list of rebates, qualifying appliances and energy efficiency tips.

"We are here to assist our customers who are experiencing financial hardship and encourage them to make contact for options to help manage costs," said Leger. "Local community action agencies can further provide assistance and customers should call today and apply for financial and/or home weatherization assistance if needed."

Programs and services are operated under the brand CenterPoint Energy by Indiana Gas Company d/b/a CenterPoint Energy Indiana North. 

CenterPoint Energy's Indiana North territory delivers natural gas to approximately 625,000 customers in Adams, Allen, Bartholomew, Blackford, Boone, Clark, Clay, Clinton, Decatur, Delaware, Fayette, Floyd, Fountain, Grant, Greene, Hamilton, Hancock, Hendricks, Henry, Huntington, Jackson, Jay, Jefferson, Johnson, Lawrence, Madison, Marion, Martin, Miami, Monroe, Montgomery, Morgan, Orange, Owen, Parke, Putnam, Randolph, Rush, Shelby, Tippecanoe, Tipton, Vermillion, Vigo, Wabash, Warren, Wayne, Wells and White counties.

Forward Looking Statement

This news release includes forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. When used in this news release, the words "anticipate," "believe," "continue," "could," "estimate," "expect," "forecast," "goal," "intend," "may," "objective," "plan," "potential," "predict," "projection," "should," "target," "will" or other similar words are intended to identify forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements are based upon assumptions of management which are believed to be reasonable at the time made and are subject to significant risks and uncertainties. Actual events and results may differ materially from those expressed or implied by these forward-looking statements. Any statements in this news release regarding future events, such as the expected prices of natural gas and the subsequent impact on customer bills, assumptions regarding winter weather, and any other statements that are not historical facts are forward-looking statements.  Each forward-looking statement contained in this news release speaks only as of the date of this release. Important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those indicated by the provided forward-looking information include risks and uncertainties relating to: (1) the impact of COVID-19; (2) financial market conditions; (3) general economic conditions; (4) the timing and impact of future regulatory and legislative decisions; (5) effects of competition; (6) weather variations; (7) changes in business plans; and (8) other factors, risks and uncertainties discussed in CenterPoint Energy's Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2020, CenterPoint Energy's Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q for the quarters ended March 31, 2021 and June 30, 2021 and other reports CenterPoint Energy or its subsidiaries may file from time to time with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

About CenterPoint Energy

As the only investor-owned electric and gas utility based in Texas, CenterPoint Energy, Inc. (NYSE: CNP) is an energy delivery company with electric transmission and distribution, power generation and natural gas distribution operations that serve more than 7 million metered customers in Arkansas, Indiana, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma and Texas. As of June 30, 2021, the company owned approximately $36 billion in assets and also owned 53.7 percent of the common units representing limited partner interests in Enable Midstream Partners, LP, a publicly traded master limited partnership that owns, operates and develops strategically located natural gas and crude oil infrastructure assets. With approximately 9,500 employees, CenterPoint Energy and its predecessor companies have been in business for more than 150 years. For more information, visit CenterPointEnergy.com.

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CenterPoint Energy prepares for winter weather conditions

Houston – Jan. 18, 2022 – CenterPoint Energy has made preparations for the potential impact from cold temperatures that might affect the region during the remaining winter months. The company is focused on service reliability and continuously prepares for seasonal weather events.

“From cold fronts to hurricanes, we are constantly monitoring weather conditions that could impact our ability to serve our customers. Our preparations take place year-round in anticipation of the various potential seasonal events that occur in our area,” said Scott Doyle, Executive Vice President, Utility Operations. “Whenever severe weather is expected, we begin preparations, start executing on established restoration plans, and deploy the necessary personnel, resources and equipment to restore electricity and natural gas service as safely and quickly as possible.”

Doyle added, “Since the February 2021 winter storm, we have taken additional steps and measures to ensure that we are ready and prepared for winter weather across greater Houston and surrounding communities.”

Some of CenterPoint Energy’s winter weather preparations include: 

  • Completed additional emergency preparedness training to ensure personnel are ready to respond to extreme events.
  • Worked with suppliers to ensure necessary materials for restoration efforts.
  • Hardened transmission system to enhance resiliency.
  • Undergone additional thorough inspections to ensure electrical facilities, including substations and main feeder lines, are ready for high demand and cooler temperatures. This is in addition to regularly scheduled facility inspections and maintenance. 
  • Completed field inspections in accordance with Winter Weather Readiness requirements from the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), and recent legislation.
  • Complied with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, North American Electric Reliability Corporation, Railroad Commission of Texas and PUCT, following all weatherization rules.  
  • Met with regulators, local and state elected officials, and emergency management personnel across its service territory to better understand community needs, including communications, response plans and critical facility designations.
  • Expanded customer weatherization programs targeted toward limited and low-income households.
  • Deployed a voluntary load management program to reduce non-residential customers’ electric consumption for short periods during emergency events so more residential power can remain on.
  • Leveraged enhanced system load rotation automation technology to allow customers to have more regular and predictable outage intervals should a load shed event occur.
  • Received and processed more than 100 critical load applications related to the natural gas industry since the February 2021 winter storm. 
  • Coordinated communications plan in place to inform customers about weather conditions, potential impact on service, and the company’s restoration efforts to its customers through various channels, including Facebook, Twitter, Power Alert Service, Outage Tracker and its website.

In addition, the Texas Legislature passed several new laws in 2021 that provide Transmission and Distribution Utilities (TDUs), like CenterPoint Energy, with new capabilities to further improve reliable energy delivery for their customers, including temporary, limited emergency energy generation during certain widespread outages, as described below. 

CenterPoint Energy has entered into lease agreements with Life Cycle Power, a company that employs a diverse fleet of mobile dual-fuel turbine generators, for emergency back-up generation resources. Through the agreements, CenterPoint Energy will receive up to approximately 500 megawatts of total capacity to be deployed across its greater Houston electric footprint. The mobile generation would support the grid and could allow up to hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses, that could otherwise be without power, to have electricity during an extreme emergency event.

CenterPoint Energy President and CEO Dave Lesar said, “We have made and will continue to make prudent, strategic investments to support of the safety, reliability and resiliency of our systems for the benefit of our customers and communities.”

Lesar added, “As the ‘poles and wires’ company that delivers energy to our customers, the temporary back-up mobile generation resources will be critical in aiding our ability to continue serving customers during future widespread power outages from weather events or other unanticipated widespread outages across our electric footprint here in Texas. They will also help us to support ERCOT when it calls for a load shed event and ultimately help our customers.”

Under the new statute, a “widespread power outage” is an event that results in a loss of electric power that affects a significant number of distribution customers of a TDU; that has lasted or is expected to last for at least eight hours; and that results in a risk to public safety. TDUs may use temporary back-up generation resources during widespread power outages in which ERCOT has ordered a TDU to shed load or the TDU’s distribution facilities are not being fully served by the bulk power system under normal operations.

The company’s natural gas system performed very well during the February 2021 winter storm, with customers experiencing minimal impact. As part of its continuous improvement efforts, CenterPoint Energy also took additional steps to enhance natural gas service reliability in the greater Houston area and surrounding communities: 

  • Reinforced natural gas system with multiple reliability and capacity improvement projects.
  • Identified and assigned technicians to key stations ahead of cold weather events.
  • Adjusted locations of electronic pressure monitoring devices to monitor system low points, based on customer growth.
  • Added a fourth propane-air peak shaving facility to supplement natural gas supply to CenterPoint Energy’s natural gas distribution system, enhancing reliability for customers during periods of peak demand.
  • Coordinated with the Texas Energy Reliability Council and Railroad Commission of Texas to identify and ensure operations of critical gas infrastructure for natural gas and electric grid reliability.

CenterPoint Energy continues to encourage customers to have an emergency plan, especially if they depend on electricity for life-sustaining equipment and natural gas or electricity to heat their homes. 

For the latest information on power outages:




CenterPoint Energy completes sale of its Arkansas and Oklahoma natural gas distribution businesses to Summit Utilities

Houston – January 10, 2022 – CenterPoint Energy, Inc. (NYSE: CNP) today announced that it has successfully completed the previously announced sale of its natural gas distribution utilities in Arkansas and Oklahoma to Summit Utilities, Inc. The assets include approximately 17,000 miles of main pipeline in Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texarkana, serving more than 500,000 residential and business customers.

The transaction received all necessary federal and state regulatory approvals, including from the Arkansas Public Service Commission, Oklahoma Corporation Commission and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Summit will immediately assume responsibility for serving CenterPoint Energy's former customers in Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texarkana.

CenterPoint Energy Executive Vice President, Utility Operations Scott Doyle said, "We want to thank our employees and those of Summit for the successful completion of this transaction. We will be working together for a seamless transition for the benefit of the customers throughout the service territories."

CenterPoint Energy President and CEO Dave Lesar said, "Completing the sale of these natural gas distribution businesses will help us achieve a number of our strategic goals, including efficiently funding our long-term capital investment plans across our regulated utility businesses without issuing external equity, driving industry-leading rate base growth, and allowing us to focus our efforts on executing our plan across fewer jurisdictions."

Lesar added, "At our recent Analyst Day, we outlined a pathway towards becoming a premium utility, including an updated five-year capital plan of more than $18 billion, as well as a first-ever 10-year capital plan of more than $40 billion to serve our growing customer base. These investments will be dedicated to safety, reliability, growth and enabling clean energy investments to benefit our customers and investors."

About CenterPoint Energy, Inc.

As the only investor-owned electric and gas utility based in Texas, CenterPoint Energy, Inc. (NYSE: CNP) is an energy delivery company with electric transmission and distribution, power generation and natural gas distribution operations that, after the closing of the Arkansas/Oklahoma transaction, serve nearly 7 million metered customers in Indiana, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Ohio and Texas. As of September 30, 2021, the company owned approximately $37 billion in assets. With approximately 9,000 total employees after the closing of the Arkansas/Oklahoma transaction, CenterPoint Energy and its predecessor companies have been in business for more than 150 years. For more information, visit CenterPointEnergy.com.

Forward-Looking Statements

This news release includes forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. When used in this news release, the words "anticipate," "believe," "continue," "could," "estimate," "expect," "forecast," "goal," "intend," "may," "objective," "plan," "potential," "predict," "projection," "should," "target," "will" or other similar words are intended to identify forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements are based upon assumptions of management which are believed to be reasonable at the time made and are subject to significant risks and uncertainties. Actual events and results may differ materially from those expressed or implied by these forward-looking statements. Any statements in this news release regarding future events, such as CenterPoint Energy's capital investments, rate base growth and its ability to achieve it, financing plans (including future equity issuances), and future financial performance and results of operations and any other statements that are not historical facts are forward-looking statements.  Each forward-looking statement contained in this news release speaks only as of the date of this release. Important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those indicated by the provided forward-looking information include risks and uncertainties relating to: (1) the impact of COVID-19; (2) financial market conditions; (3) general economic conditions; (4) the timing and impact of future regulatory and legislative decisions; (5) effects of competition; (6) weather variations; (7) changes in business plans; and (8) other factors, risks and uncertainties discussed in CenterPoint Energy's Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2020, CenterPoint Energy's Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q for the quarters ended March 31, 2021, June 30, 2021 and September 30, 2021 and other reports CenterPoint Energy or its subsidiaries may file from time to time with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

CenterPoint Energy natural gas crews depart for Colorado to support restoration efforts following wildfires

Houston – Jan. 2, 2022 – This morning, CenterPoint Energy deployed natural gas mutual assistance crews and support personnel from Shreveport, La., to assist Xcel Energy with natural gas restoration efforts in Boulder, Colorado due to damages caused by recent wildfires impacting the area.  

"Our natural gas technicians are skilled to perform in any type of conditions, just like they do for our customers at home," said Tony Gardner, Vice President, Louisiana/Mississippi Gas, at CenterPoint Energy. "We are fully committed to helping restore service to affected customers as safely and quickly as possible."

CenterPoint Energy mutual assistance crews are also departing from other parts of Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas, and will arrive in Boulder by Monday. Crews will begin working 16-hour shifts after the safety and onboarding process is complete and will continue to take the necessary steps to protect the safety and well-being of customers, employees, contractors and communities.

The company will also continue to monitor local weather conditions and assess customer needs given the severe weather impacting northern Louisiana.

CenterPoint Energy has been a volunteer member of Southern Gas Association, American Gas Association, Northwest Gas Association and Midwest Energy Association natural gas mutual assistance networks for approximately 10 years, to lend a helping hand during natural gas emergencies. Coming to the aid of other utilities is nothing new to CenterPoint Energy employees. Over the years, CenterPoint Energy crews have supported other utilities across the country many times by assisting in the restoration of natural gas service.

For images and updates, follow CenterPoint Energy on Twitter: @CenterPoint and Facebook: Facebook.com/CenterPointEnergy.

 

CenterPoint Energy natural gas crews depart for Colorado to support restoration efforts following wildfires

Houston – Jan. 2, 2022 – This morning, CenterPoint Energy deployed natural gas mutual assistance crews and support personnel from Houston to assist Xcel Energy with natural gas restoration efforts in Boulder, Colorado due to damages caused by recent wildfires impacting the area.  

"Our natural gas technicians are skilled to perform in any type of conditions, just like they do for our customers at home," said Tal Centers, Vice President, Texas Gas, at CenterPoint Energy. "We are fully committed to helping restore service to affected customers as safely and quickly as possible."

CenterPoint Energy mutual assistance crews are also departing from other parts of Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi and will arrive in Boulder by Monday. Crews will begin working 16-hour shifts after the safety and onboarding process is complete and will continue to take the necessary steps to protect the safety and well-being of customers, employees, contractors and communities.

The company will also continue to monitor local weather conditions and assess customer needs given the severe weather impacting Texas.

CenterPoint Energy has been a volunteer member of Southern Gas Association, American Gas Association, Northwest Gas Association and Midwest Energy Association natural gas mutual assistance networks for approximately 10 years, to lend a helping hand during natural gas emergencies. Coming to the aid of other utilities is nothing new to CenterPoint Energy employees. Over the years, CenterPoint Energy crews have supported other utilities across the country many times by assisting in the restoration of natural gas service.

For images and updates, follow CenterPoint Energy on Twitter: @CenterPoint and Facebook: Facebook.com/CenterPointEnergy.

 

CenterPoint Energy offers tips for customers to stay safe and warm in cold temperatures

Houston – Jan. 1, 2021 – In the coming days, the Greater Houston area will be experiencing cold temperatures. Safety is CenterPoint Energy's top core value. The company is preparing for the upcoming weather conditions and wants customers to be prepared as well. CenterPoint Energy encourages customers to have an emergency plan, particularly if they depend on electricity for life-sustaining equipment and natural gas or electricity to heat their homes.

The company is offering these tips to ensure safety and adequate heating in the coming days:

Electric:

High winds and ice could cause downed power lines in isolated areas. Always assume downed lines or wires are energized and potentially dangerous if contacted.

  • Do not go near downed lines or fallen wires.
  • Keep your distance from objects touching downed lines (tree limbs, vehicles, fences, etc.).
  • If someone is actively being shocked due to contact with a power line, do not try to rescue them – you can't help if you become a victim. Instead, call 911 immediately.
  • Report downed power lines to 713-207-2222 or 800-332-7143.
  • Never use an electricity generator inside your home or any other building.

Natural gas:

  • Make sure your heating system is working properly. Malfunctioning home heating equipment can cause a fire or carbon monoxide poisoning. Check that outside furnace vents aren't blocked by snow or ice. Keep your furnace filter clean for safe, efficient operation.
  • Use space heaters safely. Use a space heater with an automatic shut-off feature, and keep children, pets and all items at least three feet away. A space heater that uses gas, propane or wood should be vented to the outside. Stoves and ovens should never be used for space heating.
  • Check your carbon monoxide (CO) and smoke alarms. These devices are essential to warn you of a fire or dangerous condition involving a furnace, water heater, fireplace or stove. Test your alarms monthly and change batteries as recommended by the manufacturer.
  • Immediately report a suspected natural gas leak. If you smell the "rotten egg" odor of natural gas, immediately leave on foot, go to a safe location and call both 911 and CenterPoint Energy at 713-659-2111 or 800-752-8036. Don't use electric switches/outlets, phones (including cell phones), drive or start a car inside or in close proximity to the location, or do anything that could cause a spark.

Energy Efficiency

Cold temperatures also mean increased energy usage. CenterPoint Energy recommends the following tips for more efficient heating:

Furnace: A furnace is the largest natural gas consuming appliance.

  • Set your thermostat no higher than 68 degrees. If possible, set it at 65 degrees when you are home and 60 degrees when you are away from home.
  • Lowering your thermostat can help you save on your annual heating costs. Installing a programmable thermostat can help you automatically control your heat usage. Add on extra layers of clothing to keep warm.
  • Change your air filters monthly. A dirty filter restricts airflow and can increase the operating cost of your furnace by as much as 10 percent. A good reminder is to change the filter each time you receive your natural gas bill.

Other appliances: Although they consume less natural gas, you can still maximize their efficiency.

  • Run your washing machine, dish washer and gas dryer only with full loads.

Make your home more airtight and keep cold air outside:

  • Seal leaks around doors, windows, and other openings such as pipes or ducts, with caulk or weather-stripping. The most common places where air escapes in homes are floors, walls, ceilings, ducts, fireplaces, plumbing penetrations, doors, windows, fans, vents and electrical outlets.
  • If it has been a while, consider adding more insulation in your attic.
  • On sunny days, open draperies and blinds to let the sun's warmth in. Close them at night to insulate against the cold air outside.

For the latest information on power outages: