CenterPoint Energy is reminding customers about Minnesota’s Cold Weather Rule, which protects residential customers experiencing difficulty paying their natural gas bill from having their natural gas service disconnected between Oct. 15, 2020, and April 15, 2021.
This year, the Cold Weather Rule will go into effect while the COVID-related moratorium on utility service disconnections for non-payment is ongoing. Since March, CenterPoint Energy has suspended residential natural gas service disconnections for nonpayment and temporarily waived late payment fees.
CenterPoint Energy is encouraging customers who may have difficulty paying their natural gas bills to set up a payment plan now so their bills don’t become so large they struggle to pay them later. Under the Cold Weather Rule, customers are required to set up a payment plan to prevent disconnection.
“As the winter heating season approaches, we know that many of our customers are facing financial hardships during this challenging time,” said Brad Tutunjian, CenterPoint Energy’s vice president of Minnesota regional operations. “We want our customers to know that they have options when it comes to payment plans and financial assistance to help with their heating bills.”
Customers should call CenterPoint Energy between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., Monday through Friday, at 800-245-2377 or visit CenterPointEnergy.com/Assistance
A payment plan will include what is owed and the amount to be billed. The plan will also take into consideration a customer’s financial situation and any other special circumstances. The payment plan must also be agreeable to both the customer and CenterPoint Energy. If an agreed-upon payment plan cannot be reached, customers have a right to appeal under the Cold Weather Rule.
Under the Cold Weather Rule, special payment terms are available to customers who:
•Apply for and receive heating aid through Minnesota’s Energy Assistance Program; or
•Meet income guidelines set by the State of Minnesota, with proof of income.
Other helpful information:
•In addition to contacting CenterPoint Energy to establish a payment plan, company representatives are available to refer customers to social service agencies that may have energy assistance funds.
•Customers can also sign up for CenterPoint Energy’s Average Monthly Billing Plan, which spreads natural gas costs throughout the year, helping customers avoid payment peaks. Customers can sign up online through My Account at CenterPointEnergy.com/Register or by calling CenterPoint Energy.
•Customers receiving heating aid through Minnesota’s Energy Assistance Program may be eligible to receive additional funds through the Gas Affordability Program offered by CenterPoint Energy in partnership with the Energy CENTS Coalition.
•The Minnesota Department of Commerce maintains a website that provides information on energy efficiency and heating assistance programs.
•Customers interested in helping others pay their natural gas bill can support the Salvation Army’s HeatShare program. Visit The Salvation Army’s website to donate.