Administration and Regulatory Affairs

Utility Regulation

The City of Houston exercises original jurisdiction over rates charged to Houston citizens by gas utilities and private water companies operating within the city limits. In addition, the City maintains local regulatory authority over electric utilities and selected cable television providers. The Utility Regulation Section within ARA has been charged with overseeing the day to day responsibilities associated with the City’s exercising its jurisdiction, specifically with respect to monitoring related legislation and participating in administrative and judicial proceedings with state regulatory authorities.

Important Information

Check back here to be updated on rate cases pending before City Council for investor-owned water, natural gas and electric utilities.

911 Graphic
Downed Power Lines

If you see a downed power line, consider all wires ENERGIZED and dangerous.  Call 9-1-1 to report immediately!

 

811 Graphic
Call Before You Dig

By law, homeowners or contractors planning projects involving digging must call 8-1-1 at least 48 hours in advance. Free of charge, the notification center will alert utilities such as electric, gas, cable and phone companies so they can mark the location of their underground lines.

Call Before You Dig. It's easy. It's free. It's the law.

Visit www.texas811.org for additional information.

CenterPoint Energy
Natural Gas Leaks

If you smell natural gas, leave immediately! Do not use electric switches, telephones (including cell phones) or anything that could cause a spark.

Go to a safe location and then call CenterPoint Energy’s natural gas leak hotline and 9-1-1. Do not use e-mail or the Internet to contact the company about a leak, and never assume someone else has reported the leak.

CenterPoint Energy's gas leak phone number is:
Greater Houston Area 713.659.2111
Toll-free 800.752.8036 

Additional information regarding natural gas safety is available at www.centerpointenergy.com/services/naturalgas/residential/naturalgassafety/HO/.

CenterPoint Energy Outage Tracker

CenterPoint Energy Power Alert Service

CenterPoint Energy Online Streetlight Outage Repair Request Form

Available Retail Electric Provider Rate Plans (for the majority of Houston that is not served by Entergy – the Entergy service area is not subject to competition) 

Texas Electric Choice Graphic

Please visit www.powertochoose.org.

CenterPoint Energy Trees and Vegetation Guide for planting near power lines

CenterPoint Energy Electric retail delivery tariff

CenterPoint Energy Entex Natural Gas Tariff and Rate Schedule

About utility regulation and franchises in general

Under no circumstances does the City of Houston grant exclusive franchises.  There are no State or City-sanctioned monopolies for any type of utility in the City, although natural monopolies for certain services can and do arise for electric and natural gas delivery.  Any qualified company wishing to offer services, through the use of the public rights-of-way within the City limits, may apply for and be granted a franchise on a competitively neutral and non-discriminatory basis.

As of 09.01.1999, the City of Houston does not grant Telecommunication Franchises.  The Public Utilities Commission of Texas (PUCT) certifies telecommunications providers.  As of 09.01.2005, the City does not grant Cable/Video Service Franchises.  The PUCT grants these franchises as well.

The City of Houston does not exercise authority or grant franchises for wireless communications or satellite video services, as these companies do not use the public right-of-way.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) prohibits the franchising of internet service providers, although their infrastructure may inhabit the public right-of-way.

The City of Houston maintains its police powers over the use of the public rights-of-way.  Any company wishing to install its infrastructure in the public right-of-way must obtain the proper permits prior to doing so and must in all instances meet the requirements of the City’s Building Code.  The City may require any privately owned infrastructure inhabiting the public right-of-way to be relocated at the owner’s expense if needed by the City.  Examples include a water main/sanitary sewer/storm sewer rehabilitation project, abandonment of a street/easement and rededication of a right-of-way to a different purpose.  The City may also require privately owned infrastructure to be removed from the right-of-way if the company is abandoning its use of its infrastructure.  Finally, the City has regulations regarding the closing of street lanes for construction/repair work, time of day regulations regarding construction/repair work and regulations regarding restoration of streets, sidewalks and easements post-construction/repair work.

Utilities regulated by the City

  • Electricity transmission & distribution companies (e.g., CenterPoint Energy) – service complaints
  • Natural Gas Utilities (e.g., CenterPoint Energy) – service complaints
  • Selected Cable Television providers (e.g., TVMAX, Phonoscope, Suddenlink, Northland) – service complaints, rates for basic cable service, associated equipment and ancillary services
  • Investor Owned Utilities (IOU) providing water and/or sanitary sewer services within the City of Houston limits – rate complaints and service complaints

Utilities not regulated by the City

  • Retail electric providers (e.g., Reliant Energy, TXU)
  • Cable/video service providers franchised by the State of Texas (e.g., Comcast Cable, AT&T UVerse)
  • Local exchange service providers (e.g., AT&T, Sprint, MCI)
  • Satellite dish video services (e.g., Direct TV, DISH network)
  • Dial-up or broadband internet services (e.g., Comcast, AT&T, Earthlink)
  • Cable/video service – rates for expanded cable services, channel packaging complaints
  • Sub-metered apartments/condominiums/townhomes (electricity, natural gas, water) where the sub-meter is owned by the apartment complex or by the homeowners association.

How to complain about service / billing issues

Contact the customer service department of the company you have a concern about.  Phone numbers for some of the more common companies are listed below.

Cable (Concerns regarding accuracy of billing statement, signal clarity, service disruptions, low hanging cable wires, unrestored easement post-construction/repair work)

  • Comcast 1.800.266.2278
  • AT&T Uverse 1.800.288.2020
  • Phonoscope 713.272.4600
  • TVMAX 832.495.4109
  • Suddenlink 877.794.2724
  • Northland 800.689.2048

Electricity Transmission and Distribution (To report power outages or non-functioning street lights, low-hanging power lines, unrestored easement post-construction/repair work)

  • CenterPoint Energy 713.207.2222
  • Entergy 1.800.368.3749
  • Downed power lines should ALWAYS be considered energized!  Please call 9-1-1 to report!

Retail Electric Provider (Concerns regarding accuracy of billing statement, requests for payment plans, inquiries regarding available rate plans)

  • Reliant Energy 713.207.7777
  • TXU 1.800.818.6132

Natural Gas (Concerns regarding accuracy of billing statements, meter reads, requests for payment plans, unrestored easement post-construction/repair work)

  • CenterPoint Energy 713.659.2111
  • Natural gas leaks should be reported to CenterPoint Energy at 713.659.2111

Telecommunication Providers (Concerns regarding accuracy of billing statement, signal clarity, service disruptions, low hanging telephone wires, unrestored easement post-construction/repair work)

  • AT&T   1.800.246.8464
  • MCI/Verizon   1.888.624.5622
  • Sprint   1.800.877.4646

Investor-Owned Water & Sewer Providers (Concerns regarding no/poor service, meter reads, accuracy of billing statement, unrestored easement post-construction/repair work)

  • Aqua Texas Utility Inc.  1.877.987.2782
  • Nitsch & Son Utility Co.  281.445.0337
  • Southern Water Corporation  713.692.3595
  • Blue Bell Manor  281.447.5657
  • For complaints regarding the City of Houston water & sewer system, please dial 3-1-1.

If your complaint is not resolved

Unresolved complaints regarding CenterPoint Energy, Entergy, Phonoscope, TVMAX, Suddenlink and Northland may be referred to the City of Houston.  The City of Houston will contact the company on your behalf to attempt to obtain a mutually satisfactory resolution.

If you are dissatisfied with the City’s determination regarding your complaint with CenterPoint Energy or Entergy regarding electricity, you may appeal the determination to the Public Utilities Commission of Texas (PUCT). If you are dissatisfied with the City’s determination regarding your complaint against CenterPoint Energy – Entex regarding natural gas, you may appeal the determination to the Texas Railroad Commission (RRC).

Complaints regarding Comcast Cable and AT&T UVerse may be addressed directly to the PUCT.

Complaints regarding Retail Electric Providers may be addressed directly to the PUCT.

Complaints regarding telephone service should be addressed directly to the PUCT and/or the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

Complaints regarding internet service may be addressed directly to the FCC.

Complaints regarding expanded cable services, rates or premium channels may be addressed directly to the FCC.

Contact Information for Various Regulatory Agencies

Administration & Regulatory Affairs Department – Utility Regulation
Call: 832.393.8591
Fax: 832.393.8517

Or write to:
ARA-Utility Regulation
611 Walker
Houston, TX 77002

Or e-mail:
utilitycomplaint@houstontx.gov

Public Utilities Commission of Texas (PUCT)
Call: 512.936.7120 or 1.888.782.8477
Fax: 1.512.936.7003

Or write to:
PUC - Customer Protection
P.O. Box 13326
Austin, TX 78711-3326

Or e-mail:
customer@puc.state.tx.us

Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC)
Call: 512.463.7164

Or write to:
Railroad Commission of Texas
P.O. Box 12967
Austin, Texas 78711-2967

Or e-mail:
GasComplaints@rrc.state.tx.us

Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
Call:  1.888.CALL.FCC (1.888.225.5322)
Fax:  1.866.418.0232

Or write to:
Federal Communications Commission
Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau
Consumer Complaints
445 12th Street, SW
Washington, D.C. 20554

Or e-mail:
fccinfo@fcc.gov

Utility Payment Assistance Programs

Non-profit agencies for payment assistance

Citizens requiring payment assistance for electricity or natural gas payments may inquire with the following non-profit agencies for additional information regarding assistance opportunities.

Windsor Village Church -- 713.551.8792

Catholic Charities -- 713.227.9981

Christian Rescue Mission -- 713.659.7750

Harris County Social Services -- 713.695.2395

Sheltering Arms -- 713.956.1888

Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church -- 713.747.7101

Care Program -- 713.665.3600

Wheeler Community Center -- 713.223.8131

Human Services -- 1.877.787.8999

Brentwood Baptist Church -- 713.852.1400

Saint Stephens Church -- 713.742.0200

Northwest Ministries --- 281.583.5600

South Union Church of Christ -- 713.747.5440

211 Logo
Texas Health & Human Services Commission

The Texas Health & Human Services Commission operates 2-1-1 Texas, a program committed to helping Texas citizens connect with the services they need. Whether by phone or internet, their goal is to present accurate, well-organized and easy-to-find information from over 60,000 state and local health and human services programs.  Included in their services is Electric Service Payment Assistance.

Dial 2-1-1 or visit https://www.211texas.org/211/.