Energy companies to raise consumer rates

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Tuesday, October 4, 2005

Reliant Energy and CenterPoint Energy–two local utilities in Houston, Texas–plan to increase consumer rates in response to increased demand and recent disasters.

Reliant Energy is expected to raise rates to effect a 14% increase on a 1,000 kilowatt-hour bill. A typical customer could see an increase up to $20 per month. Reliant has reached an agreement with the Texas Public Utilities Commission to raise rates in two steps, once at the end of October, and again on 1 January 2006.

CenterPoint Energy must increase charges for services such as meter-reading and customer service. The Texas Public Utilities Commission prohibits natural gas companies from buying wholesale product, raising rates, and reselling. Wholesale prices of natural gas also continue to rise due to increased demand and declining domestic supply. Natural gas cannot be easily shipped to other regions like oil.

Consumer energy prices are expected to rise across the state, in some cases as much as 20%.

The Texas Public Utilities Commission must approve rate increases before they go into effect, but approval is expected.