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The Port of Houston.

CenterPoint Energy Seeks Cost Recovery for Power Grid Safety, Reliability Upgrades

March 11, 2024
The request is estimated to result in an average increase of less than 1% of a customer's total bill.

Houston-based electric utility CenterPoint Energy, which operates in a half-dozen Gulf Coast and Great Lakes states, filed in Texas to recoup some of its power grid upgrades with an increase in base rates.

The utility submitted its base rate case application to Public Utility Commission of Texas as well as municipal regulatory authorities March 6. The request is estimated to result in an average increase of less than 1% of a customer's total bill.

Since its most recent rate case in 2019, CenterPoint has made power grid improvements in the Greater Houston area while maintaining relatively flat rates over the past decade due to cost management and steady customer growth, according to a press release from the company.

Texas is still undergoing a legislative, regulatory and industry review of its power grid following the 2021 Winter Storm Uri, whose impact left many parts of the state with lasting power outages after triggering a widespread collapse of the energy infrastructure. For many utilities, this means seeking reliability improvements where they can be found.

CenterPoint's metered customers account for roughly one-fourth of the total electric load in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) region. Its service territory covers about 5,000-square-miles across Houston and surrounding communities and includes nearly 60,000 circuit miles of transmission and distribution lines, serving about 2.8 million metered customers across its electric system. The 2.8 million represents nearly 300,000 more metered customers than when the company filed its most recent rate case in 2019.

To help meet the region's growing electric demands, CenterPoint has invested more than $6 billion in its electric grid since the 2019 rate case. Key benefits to customers from these investments have included: 

Nearly 2,200 miles of new distribution lines and more than 100 miles of new transmission lines installed to meet the needs of a strong economy;

  • Six new distribution substations and two new transmission substations constructed to support regional growth and increased load needs;
  • 25 new generation resources interconnected to the grid;
  • 11 substations elevated to aid in flood mitigation and improve the resiliency of CenterPoint Energy's system; and
  • 437 Intelligent Grid Switching Devices installed to help prevent and reduce sustained customer outages, resulting in more than 80 million minutes of customer outages avoided in 2023.

CenterPoint is asking the PUCT and municipal authorities to review its investments that have not already been reviewed through other rate adjustment mechanisms, consider the value customers are receiving, and approve the proposed rates. The process is expected to take several months to complete, with a decision anticipated no earlier than September 2024.

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