Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

Local News

November 5, 2012

Rusk Council is second local city in a week to reject gas rate increase

RUSK —  The Rusk City Council unanimously decided Thursday to deny a proposed gas rate increase by CenterPoint Energy. This follows suit with the Jacksonville City Council, whose members made a similar decision earlier this week.

"We want to do everything in our power to help keep prices down for our citizens," Rusk Mayor Angela Raiborn emphasized Friday. "That's our ultimate goal."

Both Rusk and Jacksonville belong to the Alliance of CenterPoint Municipalities, a city and council coalition organized to oppose the increase in a case before the Texas Railroad Commission, which has the ultimate authority to raise rates.

In this case, the Austin law firm Herrera & Boyle, PLLC, is attempting to negotiate an appropriate price increase on behalf of this coalition. Any rate increase will have to be submitted to and approved by the Texas Railroad Commission.

Rusk Mayor Angela Raiborn said Friday she expects the alliance to succeed. Rusk City Manager Mike Murray said the requested increase has evolved, having seemed a lot more palatable than the nearly 20 percent requested when it was initially proposed by CenterPoint some months ago.

"The proposed increase is beyond unreasonable now, as far as we are concerned," Murray said.

At the Rusk City Council's July meeting, John Gensley, a representative of CenterPoint Energy, requested a $3.39 increase for the residential base rate, a change from $16.60 to $20. This is a 19.7 percent increase for the service, according to the company’s public notice.

In Rusk, the change would affect 923 residential customers, 106 small general service contractors and two large service contractors, the public notice shows.

Both Rusk and Jacksonville suspended consideration of the rate increase issue for 90 days to avoid entanglement in a legal requirement requiring a decision 35 days after CenterPoint's  paperwork was filed with the state.

Alicia Dixon, a spokeswoman for CenterPoint Energy out of Houston, said this week  — as she did with Jacksonville earlier  — that the decision was the Rusk council's to make.

But Dixon added that the matter is still far from over.

Dixon said her company's last division-wide base rate increase in the Beaumont-East Texas Division was made more than six years ago.  This affected area includes about 194,000 customers living in 106 cities and associated unincorporated areas, she said.

During this period, CenterPoint Energy has spent approximately $62 million in capital additions in our natural gas distribution system, Dixon said.

At the same time, costs for labor and benefits, materials and supplies, and other operating expenses have continued to rise and customer usage has declined, she added.

 "The ability to earn a reasonable return on our investment is critical to our ability to continue to build our system to support future economic development," Dixon said. "CenterPoint Energy anticipates the new base rates for the Beaumont-East Texas Division will become effective in the first quarter of 2013 and would generate approximately $8.6 million dollars in additional revenue on an annual basis."

The matter has been on Rusk's radar since July 2, when CenterPoint Energy Texas Gas filed a statement of intent for the increase within its East Texas-Beaumont district.

Jacksonville City Manager Mo Raissi said CenterPoint officials have refused to undertake settlement talks until after the cities affiliated with the coalition submit their evidence in the case before the Railroad Commission.

Once the commission determines a rate between the coalition and the energy company, it will go into effect for all coalition members. The commission could approve or deny a proposed increase or settle on a lesser amount.

The Rusk city manager and  mayor said they have not heard much on the matter from  citizens but are positive they would have heard plenty had the weighty gas rate increase been granted.  

"I think the citizens know we are doing everything in our power to keep it from happening," Raiborn said.

Bullard, on the other hand, approved its version of measure in mid-July, raising its average monthly bill by $3.91 per residential customer and $4.72 per small commercial customer.

 

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Cuney Council cancels meeting, again

    Tuesday's Cuney City Council meeting – in which local alderman were to vote on canceling a May 10 election due to unopposed status of candidates – was canceled because of a lack of quorum, according to City Secretary Brenda Lankford.

    April 23, 2014

  • Sen. Nichols speaking.tif Senator Nichols speaks to Jacksonville Leadership Institute

    State Senator Robert Nichols (R) spoke to the Jacksonville Leadership Institute Tuesday regarding the role of government in Texas.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jacob.tif Local boy recovering from campfire accident in Dallas hospital

    Jacob Sessions of Jacksonville was burned on 71 percent of his body on April 5 from a campfire accident. He is currently in Parkland ICU due to his injuries, according to a representative for the family.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • THOMPSON, CEDRICK.tif Cherokee County woman found dead

    At approximately 9:35 a.m. Sunday,  Kayla Nicole Thompson, 27, was found deceased in the driveway of her residence, located in the 1500 block of County Road 3201,  just West of Lake Jacksonville.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • BullardFUNRUN.tif Bullard Education Foundation sets record with event

    The Bullard Education Foundation hosted its 4th annual 5K /Fun Run, “Strides for Excellence” on Saturday morning, April 19.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Fire destroys Sims Avenue residence

    Jacksonville Fire Department responded to a fire in the 900 block of Sims Avenue early Saturday.

    April 22, 2014

  • Community library on council agenda

    The Bullard City Council will met at 6 p.m. today at Bullard First Baptist Church, 1428 S. Houston, for the regular board meeting.

    April 22, 2014

  • Council to mull election, roads

    The Cuney City Council will meet at 10 a.m. today at the Cuney Municipal Building.

    April 22, 2014

  • Christian Rapper 0419.tif Local rap artist spreads the 411 on Jesus

    "I have seen things in my life that would make Dr. Phil crazy," Jacksonville native, ordained minister and aspiring rap artist Stephen I. Crow Jr. said with a laugh. "That's why I don't label my music specifically as "Christian rap" -- yes, Christians who love rap can listen and hopefully be uplifted, but I truly want and am trying to bring the word and Jesus' message to people who may never have heard it or don't believe it's for them.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Tomato Bowl flushed to bottom of priorities

    The historic Tomato Bowl, built in 1940, stands strong on the outside, but according to some people the inside needs a lot of work in order to not be an eyesore.

    April 19, 2014