CenterPoint and Houston strike deal on proposed rate increase

CenterPoint Energy reached an agreement with several Gulf Coast cities to raise gas distribution rates for the second time in two years for than 1 million customers.

But CenterPoint, a Houston-based transmission and distribution monopoly, struck a deal with the cities, including Houston, and the proposed rate increases will not be as high as was initially proposed.

Houston bills will go up by $1.23 a month, as opposed $2.59 a month; Conroe bills will rise by $4.68, as opposed to $6.04. CenterPoint also agreed to lower its allowed rate of return, granted to the company by state statute, which will lower the threshold for future rate increases.

Overall, Houston and Gulf Cities residents who use an average of 34 hundred cubic feet of gas a month will pay $37.

The gas rate increase is a part of a comprehensive ratemaking process that CenterPoint must go through every five years to justify its charges. Now that the process is complete, the utility will be able to seek additional increases for gas distribution costs over the next five years without going through the exhaustive process.

Houston residents could very likely see both their gas and electric bills go up this year. On Thursday, CenterPoint announced plans to raise electric distribution rates for all customers, pending approval from the Public Utility Commission of Texas. That rate increased would add at least 80 cents to bills for 1,000 kilowatt hours used a month.

CenterPoint has said the electric rate increase will help it recoup nearly $480 million it spent on its distribution system in 2016.