Thursday, June 14, 2007

Me and that crystal ball.
Heating bill delinquencies jump
Utilities, facing record numbers of past-due accounts, have begun disconnecting service for thousands of Minnesota customers.

By Jackie Crosby, Star Tribune

Last update: June 13, 2007 – 9:50 PM

In what may be another troubling sign for the state's economy, record numbers of Minnesotans are delinquent in paying their natural gas bills.
CenterPoint Energy, the state's largest provider of natural gas, reports that about a third of its customers -- about 208,000 businesses and households -- owe money after the heating season.

More than half of the delinquent customers are at least two months behind on their payments, and owe an average of $1,500, according to CenterPoint.

Thousands have already had their natural gas cut off, which could affect water heaters, stoves and driers, besides, of course, furnaces. More disconnections will follow unless customers find a way to start making payments.

"I spoke with a 20-year veteran of the credit and collections department, and she's never seen anything in her experience that comes close to the delinquency figure we have today," said Rolf Lund, a spokesman with CenterPoint.

Two years or so ago, when I first started writing on the intertubes, I wrote about the horrendous situation with heating bills in Indiana here and here. This is a silent crisis that is only going to get worse. And not just in Minnesota.


At 2:17 PM, Blogger Paddy said...


At 2:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're absolutely right, Paddy. It is silent. Nobody ever talks about it. Credit card debt, mortgage foreclosures, but never news about peope unable to keep the lights and heat on.

People will now be faced with really hard choices - get the gas back on and lose the phone or the electric. Get the gas back on and not buy the groceries or the prescriptions. Borrow from family to get the gas back on...

I've been there. I can see being there again.

At 3:37 PM, Blogger Kerri said...

Yeah, out here in Washington we just got told to expect our electrical to go up around 9-17%. Some customer discount just got rescinded or something. So we'll go from 185 a month to over 200. Granted, as a household our electricity usage is ridiculous. Perhaps this will force some re-evaluation of whether three TVs on at once is a good idea.
But for those who don't have the luxury of being unconscious jerks like us, it's heartbreaking.

At 7:46 PM, Blogger GottaLaff said...

And they're thinking of outlawing wood-burning fireplaces.

The only ways to get warm will be to crawl under Donald Trump's hairpiece, stand in the breath-line of some Repug's hot air, or contribute to global warming.


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