Centerpoint Proposes Rate Increase In Longview

A request for a rate increase by "Centerpoint" energy was a big topic of discussion by the Longview city council, as one of the items addressed in a special meeting. Many east Texas customers are still fuming over what they saw as unsubstantiated high gas bills over the winter and spring from "Centerpoint energy". Today Centerpoint proposed a rate increase in a special session of city council. Aside from individual customers, non-profit organizations could see disastrous effects from a rate increase.

"What they're suggesting I'm not sure what how much but whatever increase is going to escalate our budget" said Hiway 80 rescue mission director Tony Chung.

The Salvation Army and the Hiway 80 rescue mission both run shelters and kitchens, and rely heavily on gas for heating and cooking. Both say an increase will seriously hurt their budgets , and their ability to help those in need.

"The last place any organization wants to cut is in services what this will do is probably increase need for services, you've got people coming to that salvation army who are needing food needing clothing needing utilities" said major Robert Winters of the Longview Salvation Amy.

"I'm sure that's going to effect us not in a positive way and I'm not sure how that will effect our giving" said Chung.

East Texas nonprofits, and the city of Longview want Centerpoint to show "why" they need an increase.

"It is the opinion of our lawyers that the period with which the city can initiate a hearing on centerpoints proposed rates has expired" said Centerpoint representative Bill Simms.

"Rates are to be based on historic test data adjusted for known and measurable changes, by law centerpoint is required to use the current test year, the test year period relied upon by Centerpoint is stale, the revenue data was more than a year old as of June 2005" said Longview city attorney Jim Finley.

City council voted to table the request as an "active hearing", meaning it could be taken up again over the next 90 days "as a discussion", but not an action item.

Bob Hallmark, Reporting. bhallmark@kltv.cim