CenterPoint Customer Loses Her Meter - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

4/24/05

CenterPoint Customer Loses Her Meter

Like hundreds of other East Texans, one woman says her natural gas bills are too high for the small amount of gas she actually uses. So she said, enough with using gas, she's found other ways to get hot water.

The single mother doesn't want to be identified, for family reasons, so we'll call her "Sally." She lives with her daughter in a small home, where gas bills used to average $60 a month.

They say they only use their hot water heater for washing dishes and taking showers. But wait until you see her recent bills from CenterPoint Energy.

The bill for November was $141.16. For December, she owed $372.58. And then it was down to $194.16 in January. But get this: her February bill was only $11.63.

"This does not make any sense," 'Sally' said. "They're not reading the meters. They're charging people what they want to."

"Sally" woke up Tuesday morning and found a yellow piece of paper on her door, a notice from CenterPoint to call in about her gas bills.

"And I told them, I said, well, I'd rather spend $900 on buying an electric hot water heater, and you can keep your gas meter," she said.

She said she could not afford to pay her bills, so CenterPoint came and took away her gas meter.

For the past several days, Sally and her daughter have been heating up water to take baths and wash dishes.

"I don't mind paying anyone something that I truly feel I honestly owe them," she said. "But when they start sending you outrageous bills and they know good well there's no possible way you used that much gas, something has to stop."

"Sally" is renting her home, so she says she'll eventually have to pay to put the gas meter back in. But it doesn't mean she'll use it. She's thinking about switching to all electric.

CenterPoint says it charges customers according to how much they actually use.

The city of Tyler is still in the middle of a lawsuit against the company. CenterPoint backed out of a town hall meeting scheduled for Thursday. It will be at First Christian Church in Tyler at 4202 South Broadway at 7-8:30 p.m.

Julie Tam, reporting.

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