Review Goes In Favor Of Centerpoint Energy Practices - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

4/15/05-Tyler

Review Goes In Favor Of Centerpoint Energy Practices

  It's been a heated issue for years: Has Centerpoint Energy Entex overcharged its residential and commercial customers for gas from 1992 to 2002? Late Friday evening, the examiners with the Texas Railroad Commission issued their recommendation, after reviewing hundreds of thousands of documents for the past several weeks. The result of their review could be a big blow to the City of Tyler's fight for refunds from Centerpoint Energy. Here's why. The Railroad Commission issued this statement:

"The hearing examiners found that [Centerpoint Energy] Entex complied with tariffs... acted prudently in entering into the gas supply contracts...and prudently managed those contracts."

  The examiners' review is not the final say in this case but their recommendation is weighed by the 3-member Railroad Commission when they issue the final decision. We talked to Mayor Joey Seeber and Senator Kevin Eltife, two men who have been fighting this case on behalf of Centerpoint customers. Tyler's Current Mayor says examiners did acknowledge that Centerpoint did some things wrong. And he ultimately hopes that is what will matter. "This staff member has made a recommendation before that the 3-member commission did not follow. We hope that will be the case now and we hope the commission will see that we made our case and all these things the staff members acknowledges Centerpoint did wrong means that our citizens deserve a refund."    
  Senator Eltife adds, "The City of Tyler is a customer to Centerpoint and we want to be treated like one and we have yet to be treated like one. They have fought us every step of the way. It's a David and Goliath battle and we've come out on the short end of the stick again. But we'll take the fight one more step to the Railroad Commission. And I know the mayor and counsel will do everything they can and will try to get what our citizens deserve and that's refunds from Centerpoint."

How does Centerpoint Energy feel about the ruling? In one word: elated. We talked to the company's District Manager Fred Carl as well. He feels that this initial review justifies Centerpoint's actions. He also says this bitter fight has only worked in causing a division in the community. "We have felt personally and individually within the group of our employees here in the Tyler area that we were portrayed as the bad guys. People say well 'No it's not y'all, it's the company'. We are the company. And yes we've had that feeling but this [review] also vindicates many of our actions and the way we felt like we do our business."

Again, Friday's review is not the final say in this case. Centerpoint and the City of Tyler will have the chance to state their arguments directly to the 3-member Railroad Commission in May.

Christine Nelson reporting. cnelson@kltv.com

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