CenterPoint Energy is looking to raise retail gas rates for its Houston customers in an effort to increase revenue by around $60 million as the company works to meet demand and improve its system.

Following an amendment to the company's proposal, a public hearing on the proposed increase has been moved from January to March.

The backstory

CenterPoint first filed a Statement of Intent to Change Rates with the city of Houston on Oct. 30, seeking to increase its revenue by around $59 million for service to customers in its Houston division, according to agenda language submitted with the item.

However, on Dec. 14, CenterPoint filed an amendment to its proposal, changing the amount requested to a $60 million increase as well as updating plans for plant additions, and impacts to investment and rates.

The latest

Members of Houston City Council voted unanimously Jan. 17 to move the public hearing date for the proposed rate increases from Jan. 31 to March 27, following a recommendation from the city's administration and regulatory affairs department. The delay, according to agenda packet information, "allows additional time for the city experts to review the amended filing and will allow our experts to provide more information to City Council in advance of the hearing."

The context

During the hearing, CenterPoint officials will get a chance to provide input on why the rate increase is needed. CenterPoint provides natural gas distribution services to an estimated 437,564 Houston customers, according to city information.

Under Texas law, the city of Houston has original jurisdiction over CenterPoint's rates for customers within city limits, City Attorney Arturo Michel told council members at the Jan. 17 meeting. As a result, the city is required by law to host a public hearing before council when CenterPoint requests a rate increase higher than 2.5%.

The requested aggregate increase of 3.1%, including a gas cost increase of 5.8%, surpassed the threshold, according to city information.

What's next

Officials with the administration and regulatory affairs department are slated to present a proposed rate ordinance to council for consideration on April 17. By law, council must approve a rate request by April 26.