High Gas Bills Still Eating At CenterPoint Customers - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

3/13/05-East Texas

High Gas Bills Still Eating At CenterPoint Customers

Rick Bales has all of his gas bills for the past seven years, and over the past few months they've slowly morphed.

"We went from bills that were in the 20's, 30's, and 40's, to bills that were 191 dollars, 124 dollars, 178 dollars, and 221 dollars," said Bales.

A familiar story you've heard from other CenterPoint Energy customers, who get the same explanations for their recent bills.

"They're saying I'm using double the amount, either I've got a tremendous gas leak that I don't know about, or they're just scamming the American people out of their hard earned money to make up for something they did wrong down the road someplace. You're supposed to trust the gas company."

But Rick doesn't trust them anymore. A self-proclaimed 'frugal' man, he does everything possible to save money.

"We bought the best washer and dryer there is, and it cut my electric bill down by 60 dollars a month."

But his gas bill was still climbing.

"With the water usage not being more, and the washing machine more efficient, my gas bill should either stay the same or it should have gone down. Here I used 46 cubic foot, here I used 76 cubic foot. But over here they're saying I used roughly 218 cubic feet? Where they'd come up with triple the usage, for the same sized house, that we've tried to make more efficient, with a washer and dryer?"

Rick says all the numbers and the explanations mean only one thing to him: a scam.

"Have a man come out here and hook a meter up that is certified that tells me I am using, about a hundred and some cubic feet of gas, more than what I've used before. When you're being ripped off nothing pleases you more than somebody being honest with you and saying hey we made a mistake it doesn't add up to a lot of people, but that won't happen, we're just the little people."

CenterPoint Energy District Manager Fred Carl, was out of town on business, but says that they still stand by their gas prices and billing procedures. He says meters are sometimes misread but any inaccurate bills are adjusted and corrected each new month.

Reporting: Braid Sharp bsharp@kltv.com

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