CenterPoint Energy assistance programs.
Financial assistance programs are offered by CenterPoint Energy to low income customers. Some resources may be overseen by the government, and others, such as payment plans, are offered directly by the company. CenterPoint provides utility and energy services to millions of customers across Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Oklahoma, and Mississippi.
Payment arrangements and assistance programs are offered for people who are faced with an unexpected, short term financial hardship. Government assistance, such as LIHEAP, is another resource that benefits thousands of families. If you are struggling or are having trouble paying your natural gas bill, or if you think you may fall behind in the future, call the company right away. Call and ask for help and work with a representative to explore your options with CenterPoint. You need to do this before you receive a disconnection/shut-off notice as by then it may be too late.
Options offered directly by CenterPoint
When you call, you will work with a customer service representative to explore various financial assistance programs, conservation measures, and more. While options may vary based on your state and other factors, in general representatives from the company may explore payment arrangements with you, which can provide more time to get back on track with paying your bills. Another possible option is an extension, which can be set up on your past-due bill for up to 30 days.
Customers with an outstanding balance on their account should call CenterPoint Energy. It is recommended to call as soon as possible before you fall further behind and/or are faced with a disconnection on your account. Some individuals may be entered into a payment plan (see above) and/or you will also receive information about other financial assistance programs or non-profit resources. If you do not call in time and have received a shut off notice, be sure to review the notice closely in order to avoid additional fees. Follow any instructions that were sent to you.
Average Monthly Billing, also sometimes called budget billing, can in effect even out the highs and lows of your monthly and annual gas bills. This service is open to anyone and it will spread your natural gas costs throughout a 12-month period to help smooth out spikes during the summer or winter billing peaks. Anyone who signs up for this will still need to pay for their natural gas, but it helps people plan and budget, and will in effect set your payments so they become more manageable.
Gas Affordability Program is offered by CenterPoint Energy as a way to help qualifying lower income families pay past due balances on their account and also save money on their monthly gas expenses. Conditions are in place, including customers must have received a LIHEAP grant in order to apply. If someone is accepted into the Gas Affordability program, customers can receive credits on their monthly natural gas bill.
Participants who are entered into this program and who continue to make payments will not have their natural gas service shut-off. The resource can also help customers lower their monthly natural gas bills and pay past due balances. It can also offer flat monthly payment rates in order to help customers with planning and managing their budgets. There are two types of credits from the Gas Affordability Program.
The first is an Installment Credit for any past due natural gas charges on a CenterPoint Energy customer's account. This can be offered in combination with a payment plan for any balance that is not paid off by the credit. If you continue to make payments on time for your ongoing bills, the past balance will slowly by waived by CenterPoint. The amount that someone needs to pay will also be based on their total household income.
The second option is a monthly GAP Affordability Credit, which is used for current natural gas charges. This amount will be estimated based on the total annual natural gas bill divided by 12 months and that amount will be averaged out. The amount will not exceed 4% of a customer's annual household income.
Government resources and financial assistance
The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP, is offered by many local community action agencies and social service organizations. The application process will vary by state. Many agencies and states, including Texas and Louisiana, will try to sign people up for weatherization at the same time as LIHEAP.
The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program will help pay home heating costs, and some states may allow funds to pay summer cooling bills. Households with the lowest incomes and highest energy expenses receive the greatest financial benefit. The total amount of the grant is based on energy usage, household size, income, and the fuel type used. In general, qualified low income households with the lowest income and highest fuel costs receive the highest cash benefits from the LIHEAP program. It is funded and paid for by the U.S. Department of Human Services and administered by the state Department of Commerce. The program is offered for renters and homeowners. Call your local community action agency, Salvation Army, or county social service office to sign up or get more information.
LIHEAP will provide direct payments or credits to CenterPoint Energy, and not to the applicant. Additional benefits include eructation to consumers about how to use home heating energy efficiently and safely.
Many states also offer a crisis component of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, and this helps people faced with imminent utility disconnections. Occasionally grants may be offered to homeowners to help pay for heating system repair or replacement.
Weatherization is offered to many low income and working poor customers as well. This federal government funded program is free to qualified CenterPoint Energy customers. Significant updates and improvements can be made to a family’s home, which will improve the energy efficiency of their residence.
CenterPoint Energy works with other non-profits in Oklahoma and Texas to provide a resource called Lend a Helping Hand. Programs are sponsored that can provide utility bill assistance for individuals, seniors, and families in need. Many beneficiaries are lower to moderate income families with young children, seniors, and the disabled. Most of the charity type resources are paid for and run off donations and contributions from people across the community. CenterPoint Energy works with non-profits and agencies such as the United Way, Salvation Army, the United Way, and the American Red Cross. Lend a hand can help pay for natural gas bills. If you can contribute, please do so. All donations made are tax-deductible.
Minnesota has in place a law regarding active military personnel who receive their service from CenterPoint Energy or any other provider for that matter. A utility company is prohibited from disconnecting the utility service of a customer if a household member is on active military duty. The key condition is that the household will need to enter into an agreement and agree to make payments toward their bill.
CenterPoint Energy serves customers in a number of states. The phone numbers to call for assistance include the following.
- Arkansas - 800-992-7552
- Houston Texas region only - 800-752-8036
- Louisiana- 800-477-0177
- Minnesota - 800-245-2377
- Mississippi - 800-371-5417
- Oklahoma - 866-275-5265
- Texas (balance of state) - 800-376-9663