High Gas Bills Have CenterPoint Customers Heated Up

At first glance, John Anderson thought he'd made a mistake reading his gas bill.

"I went to the thermostat, secondly I went to my wife, and then I went to the meter," says John.

He's talking about his CenterPoint energy bill that was eight times higher than last month's bill.

"My consumption at that time was 107 CCF's. This is at 107 cubic feet. Total bill was $97 . This bill shows that I owe 239 cubic feet. The base bill is $105s which is comparable to the $97. Then, for some reason, they added a gas cost adjustment for that 239 CCF's, which came out to an additional $136. So where did this come from? That's what I want to know."

Like many others who've seen the dramatic increase, John has serious questions. We talked to CenterPoint's District Manager, who says the answer lies in the cost of gas.

"The cost is high. There's no doubt about that, but the reason the cost is high is based on the overall national gas cost, which rolls down to us, and we pass it on," says Fred Carl, CenterPoint District Manager.

We checked the gas rates on John's bills, and you'll notice they're not all that different. In October, the base rate was about 54 cents. For part of December, that rate stayed the same and even dropped through January. But, it's the adjustments on the bills that makes the difference.

"Last month, this is what's amazing to me, they tell me I only used 18 cubic feet and this month I used 239 cubic feet," says John.

"Our feeling is when the final ruling comes out, our business practices and our gas costs, will be proven to be correct," says Carl.

But customers like John aren't questioning gas rates. They're wondering where these monumental adjustments are coming from.

"I just know I've never, in 18 years, had a gas bill adjustment of this magnitude. And where it came from and why they picked this month to do it and not previous months, just doesn't pass the smell test. It's something beyond my control. I think that we've been had," says John.

"With 30 something thousand people in just this town, there are going to be some errors, some stuff. But normally, we get them corrected and go on through the billing process," says Carl.

It's something John says he'll have to see to believe.

Reporting: Braid Sharp bsharp@kltv.com