Cities Say No to CenterPoint

CenterPoint energy wants to raise its rates — but a group of 34 cities opposes the rate increase. The Gulf Coast Coalition of Cities will petition the Public Utility Commission of Texas to block CenterPoint's rate hike. Laurie Johnson reports.

The Gulf Coast Coalition of Cities, which includes Galveston, Sugar Land, and nearly three dozen other  municipalities, banded together to pass ordinances opposing CenterPoint's rate increase.

The City of Houston is not part of the Coalition, but also opposes the increase. Instead, they want the PUC to actually cut rates by 150 million. They say CenterPoint's Texas customers already pay some of the highest energy costs in the country.

"We're very mindful of any kind of rate that is charged to our citizens for any type of utility. And in this case, CenterPoint is proposing to increase the residential rates by 18 percent."

That's Karen Daly, the assistant city manager of Sugar Land. Rates would vary city by city, but Daly says the increase
works out to an additional 6.50 dollars a month on average for residential customers.

"Utility customers can't actually file against these rate increases. The only ones who can do it are the municipalities. So we're doing it on behalf of our residents and our rate-payers."

CenterPoint says the increase is to recover losses from Hurricane Ike and for higher operating costs. The company serves about two million people in the Houston-Galveston region.

The Public Utility Commission will make a decision on the matter before the new year.

Bio photo of Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...