CenterPoint Customers May Have To Pay Litigation Fees

The battle fought out in the state capitol for years between CenterPoint Energy and the city of Tyler, may come out of your own pocket.   The three-year legal battle continues in Austin. Now, the city of Tyler and CenterPoint Energy are looking at a combined bill of more than $2 million.

The recent recommendation to the Railroad Commission said all litigation fees would be paid by Tyler's 26,000 CenterPoint Energy customers.

"Right now, we're looking at possibly a five year period, " explained CenterPoint Energy's Tyler District Manager Fred Carl. "So we're not looking at just one big large amount anyway."

Those litigation costs were the topic in the executive session of Wednesday's city council meeting. Mayor Joey Seeber wants CenterPoint customers to know it's still early and nothing is set in stone.
"It really is not fair," Mayor Seeber said, "but state law stacks the deck in favor of CenterPoint and makes the people pay even when the Railroad Commission finds that CenterPoint did something wrong."

Mayor Seeber said the costly battle was the city's only choice. "It's expensive and time consuming to hold the utility accountable but that's the only way we have under state law to do it."

CenterPoint Energy customers we spoke to simply said the whole thing is unfair.

"It's almost like if you ask a question you get punished," said William Muscato.

"I don't think it should be passed on to the customers," said Ruby Babina. "Because, the customers didn't choose the CenterPoint company, the people of Tyler did."

Who pays, just how much and for how long will be decided by the Railroad Commission. A decision everyone is fighting to win.

The litigation costs will be one of the issues brought up in Thursday's town hall meeting about the CenterPoint case.

The meeting is from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. It will be held at the First Christian Church located at 4202 South Broadway in Tyler.

Maya Golden, reporting,