EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) There’s a new coalition of concerned citizens, looking for solutions to CenterPoint Energy’s high natural gas rates.

Faith and environmental groups have formed the “Energy for All” coalition.

The groups that joined the coalition usually focus on topics ranging from the environment to social justice. Now, those groups are working on one issue and are already proposing ways to lower those rates.

“Here, we’re in the church, and we’re looking at extremely more high rates than we have in the past,” said Tom Bogenschutz of Congregations Acting for Justice and Empowerment, or CAJE. He says his group’s been worried about high natural gas rates since last fall, and what it’s doing to Centerpoint customers.

“There are alternatives that they can pursue. That would be more economical and better for everybody,” he said.

CAJE is one of more than a dozen groups a part of the energy for all coalition. They’re proposing three acts, which are Centerpoint doing more to help customers pay bills, cancel plans for new gas plants, and make bills more transparent.

“We don’t need any new legislation, it doesn’t cost CenterPoint any money, they can tell each and every customer what is on their distribution and service charges, and what makes that up,” says Utah Ponce of Direct Action Against CenterPoint Energy.

The coalition forms as residents continue talking with city and state officials, and protests occasionally show up outside CenterPoint headquarters. To lower rates, DAACE members say one way is to merge the utility’s Evansville area region with one in northern Indiana.

“It would share in the distribution costs, so it would lower our rates,” said Christopher Norrick of DAACE.

In a statement, CenterPoint officials say “CenterPoint Energy recognizes higher natural gas bills this winter heating season have impacted many of our southwestern Indiana customers. As we have continued to share information on the factors impacting bills, such as higher natural gas prices nationwide and new rates that impact the portion of a customer’s bill more dependent on natural gas usage, CenterPoint Energy is also exploring measures to continue assisting customers and enhance their overall experience with the company.  

We welcome productive, thoughtful engagement with our customers and other stakeholders and remain committed to providing safe, reliable service in the most cost-effective manner possible. As a reminder, CenterPoint Energy has suspended disconnections for all Indiana residential customers through May 31, 2022. Customers are encouraged to call 1-800-227-1376 if they need to discuss their options.”

DAACE members say they are looking for more community groups to join and have had talks with some in recent days.

(This story was originally published on March 22, 2022)