CenterPoint Customers In Arkansas Should See Lower Gas Bills Until Late 2015

May 7, 2015

A CenterPoint Energy spokeswoman said Wednesday that Arkansas customers should already begin seeing lower monthly bills due to a decreasing gas supply rate (GSR) adjustment that comes from falling wellhead prices tied to the cost of natural gas.

The adjustment will lower an April residential gas bill using 50 Ccf (hundred cubic feet) of natural gas by more than 14% compared to last year. This means a bill that was $65.48 last April is $55.92 this month, Centerpoint officials said, although actual bills will vary depending on how much natural gas individual customers use.

Through the GSR, an allowed adjustment to the gas supply charge portion of a customer bill, CenterPoint passes on the cost of natural gas with no markup. The GSR reflects the actual prices the company pays for natural gas.

“The price we pay to purchase natural gas has continued to drop in the last several months,” said Walter Bryant, CenterPoint’s vice president of Arkansas gas operations. “This is great news for our customers and we are happy to be passing along our savings to them.”

In trading Wednesday, natural gas futures rose for the fifth straight day to $2.780 per million British thermal units (mmBtu) on the New York Mercantile Exchange, reversing losses after hitting a 34-month low of $2.49 per million Btu on April 27, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Still, natural gas prices are down 3% for the year, and $1.91 lower than a year ago.

CenterPoint works with a variety of natural gas suppliers and buys natural gas throughout the year on a competitively bid basis, the company said. CenterPoint filed its summer rate schedule with Arkansas Public Service Commission on March 31, which became effective in April.

CenterPoint spokeswoman Alicia Dixon said typically the Houston-based gas utility files two rate adjustment schedules in Arkansas twice a year, once in the spring and again in the fall. “Customers in Arkansas will see these lower gas costs until November,” she said.

CenterPoint Energy serves more than five million metered customers primarily in Arkansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Texas. Dixon said the company currently has 430,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers across the state.