By Holly Wagner, WCCO-TV

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — We all expect our utility bills to go up in the winter, but if you’re a CenterPoint Energy customer, it might be more than you expected this year. There’s no longer a flat rate for natural gas.

The company changed to a new way of billing, the more you use, the more you pay. The pilot program started 6 months ago.

Company officials say the purpose is to provide an incentive for customers to conserve energy and that would help bring rates down. The move has created some controversy.

On Thursday, the Public Utilities Commission held a meeting to discuss how to evaluate the new tiered rate system for Center Point Energy customers.

Representatives of the Office of Energy Security said this new system needs further evaluation and they want an independent consultant to come in and design a plan to help determine whether this program is effective. But Center Point Energy officials say they have ways to measure this program and if they hire a consultant, the cost would be passed down to their customers.

The meeting will continue Thursday afternoon. Commissioners have yet to make a decision.

WCCO-TV’s Holly Wagner Reports

Comments (9)
  1. Jessica says:

    So we are in one of the worst recessions ever and they think it is a good idea to charge people more money for the heat they need in the winter? They want to tell us how much we should be using and charge us if we use more? This sounds like typical democrat BS from the state of MN.

    1. Sam says:

      How precisely is this a Democrat issue? The business is deciding to charge people more money
      Democrats are generally against this kind of thing, often to the point of butting in too far.
      Look to the other side of the aisle for the party that is all for allowing businesses to fleece consumers.

  2. Kay says:

    I’m wondering how (or if) this will affect customers who are on the Budget Plan.

  3. KB says:

    BS Meter is ringing on this one. The reason for them switching the billing is to raise profits. That’s the only reason to fix something not broken. The rates won’t be lowered that is a bs statement, people may concerve, but the rates will not go down because of it.

  4. M says:

    Am I really going to go out and buy a new energy efficient furnace, new windows, and get blow in insulation in my walls to use 50 less therms per month to save a few dollars on my gas bill. Probably not. Lets wait and see how much more if any the bills are after a good month of cold weather. I’m betting the average user won’t see much of an increase based on the pricing tiers. But we will see.

  5. M says:

    I just compared my Dec. 2009 bill to my Dec. 2010 bill. I used 27 therms more this year than last and my bill was only 8 dollars more. I don’t think that is enough of an increase for me to spend much if anything for more efficiency to use less. I might turn the furnace down a few degrees and put on a sweatshirt, but that would be about it. This isn’t the end of the world. Plus it was introduced in June or July, so people should act surprised by this. This is not news.

  6. d says:

    This is one of a lot of utilities that take for granted that the government will pay the bill. Who do you think will get hit the hardest? What happens to renters who don’t have the option to take steps to winterize?

  7. brijoy says:

    Great, as if I wasn’t already paying enough as it is. I work 2 jobs and still can’t keep up on the bills =(

  8. Chelsey Little says:

    Seriously considering a wood burning stove…then again, there goes homeowners insurance on the rise….

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