PUC kills CenterPoint Energy pilot program for natural gas

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission has formally killed an experiment to charge CenterPoint Energy customers higher rates if they use more natural gas.

The three-year pilot program set up rate tiers that were supposed to encourage customers to take steps to use less natural gas heating, but the program ran into problems last year.

Elderly customers complained they had medical or age-related conditions that required them to keep their homes warm in the winter, and others complained they didn't have the money to make their homes more energy efficient.

Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson slammed the program and the PUC suspended it in the fall, pending further study.

On Thursday, July 19, the PUC voted 5-0 to end the program.

The PUC assembled a study group to try to figure out if the pilot program could be modified and brought back.

"We had a lot of good discussions, but we couldn't come to a conclusion on how it would work without the unintended consequences of impacting some groups," CenterPoint Energy spokeswoman Rebecca Virden said.

Pioneer Press
Article Publish Date: 
July 19, 2012