FARMERSBURG, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — Customers who purchase natural gas from CenterPoint Energy should see lower bills this winter.
That’s according to a CenterPoint Energy release that attributes the lower costs to lower and more stable gas prices. The average customer is expected to see a decrease of about 15% when compared to last winter.
“Last winter season, higher and more volatile natural gas prices impacted utilities across the state and country. Decreased and stable natural gas prices should assist customers’ bill amounts to remain lower this heating season,” the release reads.
The company says if prices remain stable and we get an average winter when it comes to weather, customers can expect to pay an average of $100 per month over the 5-month heating season of November through March. Last year’s average was around $125.
CenterPoint stresses that the company is legally not allowed to profit off of markups in the purchase and sale of natural gas, and notes that any costs recovered from customers must first be approved by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission.
“With the decrease in natural gas prices, assuming our region experiences normal weather this heating season, customers should expect a notable decrease in their bills compared to last season,” Vice President of Indiana and Ohio Gas, Ashley Babcock said. “However, we recognize some customers might still face financial hardship this heating season, and we want to encourage them to contact us for options to assist in managing costs prior to their first bill of the heating season.”
Customers looking for assistance in managing their heating bills can look into the following programs;
- Energy Assistance Program (EAP): State and federal utility assistance dollars are available for income-eligible customers. Those who fall within 60 percent of the 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 at any time at the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority website at www.EAP.ihcda.in.gov.
- 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.
- Due Date Extension and Payment Arrangement: These are two free offerings available to customers in need of a special payment plan to temporarily keep their service connected, and better manage energy costs.
- 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/smartsavings or call 1-866-240-8476 for a list of rebates, qualifying appliances, and energy efficiency tips.
- 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 at www.centerpointenergy.com or by calling 1-800-227-1376.