HOUSTON – Across the country, the cost of natural gas is down, but CenterPoint Energy wants to raise the average customer's monthly bill.
The public notice filed by the utility company showed that the proposed revisions will amount to an increase of $2.74 per month for the average homeowner in Houston. That is a 16.3 percent increase, according to the Texas Coalition for Affordable Power.
The public is hearing more about a price hike because CenterPoint must submit it and get it approved by the state and the cities and municipalities where it provides gas.
Channel 2 Investigates looked at past rate increases and discovered significant bumps over the last 7 years.
CenterPoint's last official rate case submitted to the Railroad Commission for approval was in 2009. It increased the company's revenues by $5 million and increased Houstonians gas bills in 2010. In 2011, the average gas bill went up 20 cents a month. In 2012, Houstonians saw a 73-cent-per-month increase, followed by an 82-cent increase in 2013. There were no increases in 2014 or 2015; but Houstonians paid 56 cents more per month in 2016.
CenterPoint said all of the rate increases from 2011 through 2016 were to help the company recoup its costs of infrastructure improvements. This latest proposed increase is to cover inflation for delivering the gas to homes by CenterPoint.
The company wanted the hike to go into effect last month, but the Houston City Council voted to delay the issue, to give them time to investigate the proposed changes.
The numbers listed are only what Houstonians will pay, but CenterPoint wants to raise the rates for the entire area. How the average customer's bill will be impacted depends on where he or she lives. If passed, people who live in Conroe will see the biggest increase of more than $6 a month.
The city of Houston is holding a meeting to get public input on this issue. The meeting is scheduled for Jan. 30 from 6-8 p.m. in the City Hall Annex Council Chambers.
The council will take the issue up again at its March 1 meeting.
If passed, the new rates will take effect April 6. If the council votes against the increase, CenterPoint can appeal to the Texas Railroad Commission. That agency will make the final decision.