By Patrick Massey
Utility companies say natural gas customers are expected to see a significant increase in prices this winter.
CenterPoint Energy announced last week the average residential customer’s bill is likely to increase by 42 percent, from $92 a month to $131. The cost increase is being attributed to an overall increase in energy prices.
In a press release, the company said this increase assumes that a customer will use the same total of natural gas this year as last year. Company officials stated “the actual bill impact will vary by customer depending on the size and age of the home, number of gas appliances, number of people in the household, thermostat settings, levels of insulation and other factors.”
At this time the company has not shared expected cost increases for businesses.
CenterPoint Energy is informing customers who may have trouble meeting the higher prices should contact the company as soon as possible to explore payment plans and other assistance options. Customers can contact the company to set up monthly payment plans or seek payment assistance by calling 1-800-992-7552. The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, also known as LIHEAP, also provides utility assistance to Arkansans. For residents of Polk County, the administering agency is the Arkansas River Valley Area Council. Visit arvacinc.org for more information or call (479) 219-5292.
Citing a report by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the Arkansas Democrat Gazette reported U.S. households are likely to see an average 30 percent increase in the cost of heating their home this winter. That’s an average of $736 per household, or $172 higher than last year.