EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) — CenterPoint Energy customers grow upset over CenterPoint’s consistent high utility prices and many have grown even more upset after a report discussing the CEO’s salary was released.
According to Energy and Policy Institute, CenterPoint Energy paid its CEO David Lesar $37.8 million last year.
That total is based on a million dollar base salary plus another three million in incentives and over 33 million in stocks.
This is while some customers say they are already struggling to keep up with their rising utility bills.
“In our analysis we compared CenterPoint CEO compensation to the compensation of other CEO’s at other utilities that CenterPoint itself identified as peers so it really stood out to us that CenterPoint CEO is earning so much more,” Karlee Weinman, researcher for the Energy & Policy Institute said. “In many cases double, triple or more.”
Weinman says many customers are struggling with paying other bills and have to make sacrifices to make sure they are able to pay their utility bills as they continue to rise.
“Folks are really feeling the strain as their utility bills go up after a couple years of the pandemic which has invited a lot of challenges to everyday people’s everyday lives, Weinmann said.” CenterPoint isn’t paying the going rate for a CEO, they’re paying way more and I think it’s fair for customers to question the value of that leadership to them.”
One reason for higher costs could be the company still recovering from the winter storm that slammed Texas 2021, in which the Houston based company reported extraordinary costs.
“The utility wants customers to pay for to kind of recoup those costs over the long term, so I think people are already feeling month to month as their bills come that their experiencing higher costs and I think that’s going to continue for the foreseeable future,” Weinmann explained.
In a statement sent by CenterPoint Energy, they said the following:
“Since becoming President and CEO of CenterPoint Energy in July 2020, Dave Lesar has helped transform our company by establishing and executing our long-term growth strategy; refocusing on our core utility businesses; investing in the safety, reliability and resiliency of our electric and natural gas systems; driving the transition to a cleaner energy future, including a goal of Net Zero direct carbon emissions by 2035, approximately 15 years earlier than the average of our peer companies; and fully exiting our midstream investments. “
“In today’s economic environment, we recognize the importance of utility costs for our customers. That is why one of Dave’s top priorities has been to reduce CenterPoint Energy’s expenses 1-2% on average annually through 2030, with the savings benefitting all our customers and the amount far exceeding his one-time retention award. In addition, Dave’s one-time retention award is all in stock, which aligns him with our investors and customers. Through Dave’s leadership and commitment to developing a strong succession plan, we remain focused on growing our utilities and enhancing the performance and value of the company for our customers, shareholders and communities.”