Most of the homes in Pleasantville were built in the 1950s and more than half the residents are fixed-income senior citizens. The houses have cracks and old insulation, making it difficult to keep energy costs low. Under a state-mandated program, CenterPoint Energy provides weatherization services, adding insulation, sealing cracks and applying weatherstripping around doors and windows. Most households will see a 12 to 13 percent decrease in energy costs. Houston Mayor Bill White says there are negotiations underway with CenterPoint and the Public Utility Commission to expand the assistance program next year.
"We fight CenterPoint on the rates all the time, I'll be blunt about it. You know, our job is to fight for consumers on rates. The last time we did it, they paid their lawyers over $35 million and the city and others paid their lawyers $10 million and it was all added to the rate base. So why can't we come up with something where instead of having one percent, two percent reduction in rates, we can reduce people's bills by double-digit amounts through energy conservation."
Residents must be at or below 125 percent of the federal poverty level to qualify for the free weatherization. Households at that income level typically spend nearly 12 percent of their annual budget on home energy. Laurie Johnson Houston Public Radio News.