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Minnesotans with past due natural gas bills may be disconnected April 16

Minnesotans with past due natural gas bills should take action to avoid having their natural gas service disconnected once the Cold Weather Rule (CWR) ends on April 15.

The Minnesota CWR protects residential customers who are having problems paying their natural gas bill from having their service disconnected Oct. 15 through April 15. While the CWR does not prevent disconnection, it does give qualified customers extra protection during the coldest months as defined in the rule.

"We encourage customers who are having trouble paying their natural gas bill or are past due to contact us immediately so we can set up payment arrangements," said Joe Vortherms, vice president of operations for CenterPoint Energy. "Plus, we can help them enroll in CenterPoint Energy's bill payment programs and direct them to available energy assistance funds."

CenterPoint Energy offers a variety of payment options and energy assistance program information that may help customers in need. The company also offers a Gas Affordability Program (GAP), which helps qualified customers lower their monthly gas bills and pay past due balances. To qualify for GAP, customers must have an active Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) guarantee or have received a LIHEAP grant for the current heating season. If qualified and accepted into the program, customers can receive credits on their monthly natural gas bill. Customers who qualify for this program will not have their natural gas service turned off during the program year, provided customers make agreed upon payments. Customers can call 612-372-4727 (1-800-245-2377) to see if they qualify or visit the company's website.

Customers can now use CenterPoint Energy's new online and automated telephone options to make a one-time payment, setup a payment arrangement, report a payment made at an authorized bill payment center and to have service reconnected (web only) at . To make a payment by phone and avoid service disruption, or to learn more about energy assistance, call 1-612-372-4680 or 1-800-729-6164.