Consumers Energy Opens Budget Plan Enrollment to Help Customers Manage Winter Heating Costs

Apr 30, 2001, 01:00 ET from Consumers Energy

    JACKSON, Mich., April 30 /PRNewswire/ -- Consumers Energy customers
 concerned about higher heating bills next winter can enroll in the utility's
 Budget Plan, starting Tuesday.
     Under the Budget Plan, customers pay an equal amount each month for
 natural gas through May 2002.  The monthly amount is based on past usage,
 projected temperatures, and the cost of natural gas.
     Starting with their May bills, Consumers Energy customers will see natural
 gas prices that reflect the national market.  The utility had a frozen price
 for the previous 37 months.  Sharply higher national prices mean the typical
 residential customer will have a May bill that's about $20 -- or 43 percent --
 higher than the May 2000 bill, $67.20 compared to $46.90.
     Consumers Energy estimates customers will see natural gas bills 40 percent
 to 60 percent higher in the next 12 months, compared to their 2000-2001 bills.
 That works out to $20 to $30 per month on average, or $40 to $60 more per
 month during the winter.
     Under the Budget Plan, the typical residential customer will pay about $80
 per month for natural gas service.  The exact amount will vary from customer
 to customer.  The $80 Budget Plan estimated payment is based on a typical
 residential customer using about 1,200 hundred cubic-feet (ccf) of natural gas
 a year.
     Eligible customers will find their monthly Budget Plan payment amount
 listed on their May bills.  A flyer in the May bills describes the Budget Plan
 in detail.  Customers can enroll in the Budget Plan by checking a box on the
 May bill, at www.consumersenergy.com , or by calling 800-477-5050.  Customers
 with up-to-date bill payments may enroll.  Customers may enroll after May, but
 the monthly payments will be higher because there will be fewer months to
 spread out the winter heating costs.
     About 350,000 customers, or 22 percent of the utility's 1.6 million gas
 customers, enrolled in the Budget Plan for the 2000-2001 heating season.  Last
 year's Budget Plan payment was $53 per month for the typical customer using
 1,200 ccf of gas.
     "The Budget Plan is popular with many customers because it offers them the
 opportunity to pay their annual gas bill in 12 equal payments, so they don't
 have to worry about surprises this winter.  Given the sharp increase in gas
 prices, we hope more customers will take a close look at the Budget Plan and
 how it can help them manage their winter heating bills," said Carl L. English,
 Consumers Energy's president and chief executive officer - gas.
     Customers who also get electric service from Consumers Energy can include
 their electric use in the Budget Plan.  The typical residential electric
 customer paid $60 per month for electric service under the Budget Plan for
 2000-2001.  That number will remain the same, so the typical customer getting
 gas and electric service from Consumers Energy will have a Budget Plan bill of
 about $140 per month over the next 12 months.
     Residential electric rates were cut 5 percent last June and frozen at
 least through Dec. 31, 2005 by the state's electric restructuring law.  Rates
 for large commercial and industrial electric customers were capped through
 2003 and rates for small business customers were capped through 2004.
     Consumers Energy, the principal subsidiary of CMS Energy, is Michigan's
 largest utility providing natural gas and electricity to more than six million
 of the state's 9.9 million residents in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties.
 
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SOURCE Consumers Energy
    JACKSON, Mich., April 30 /PRNewswire/ -- Consumers Energy customers
 concerned about higher heating bills next winter can enroll in the utility's
 Budget Plan, starting Tuesday.
     Under the Budget Plan, customers pay an equal amount each month for
 natural gas through May 2002.  The monthly amount is based on past usage,
 projected temperatures, and the cost of natural gas.
     Starting with their May bills, Consumers Energy customers will see natural
 gas prices that reflect the national market.  The utility had a frozen price
 for the previous 37 months.  Sharply higher national prices mean the typical
 residential customer will have a May bill that's about $20 -- or 43 percent --
 higher than the May 2000 bill, $67.20 compared to $46.90.
     Consumers Energy estimates customers will see natural gas bills 40 percent
 to 60 percent higher in the next 12 months, compared to their 2000-2001 bills.
 That works out to $20 to $30 per month on average, or $40 to $60 more per
 month during the winter.
     Under the Budget Plan, the typical residential customer will pay about $80
 per month for natural gas service.  The exact amount will vary from customer
 to customer.  The $80 Budget Plan estimated payment is based on a typical
 residential customer using about 1,200 hundred cubic-feet (ccf) of natural gas
 a year.
     Eligible customers will find their monthly Budget Plan payment amount
 listed on their May bills.  A flyer in the May bills describes the Budget Plan
 in detail.  Customers can enroll in the Budget Plan by checking a box on the
 May bill, at www.consumersenergy.com , or by calling 800-477-5050.  Customers
 with up-to-date bill payments may enroll.  Customers may enroll after May, but
 the monthly payments will be higher because there will be fewer months to
 spread out the winter heating costs.
     About 350,000 customers, or 22 percent of the utility's 1.6 million gas
 customers, enrolled in the Budget Plan for the 2000-2001 heating season.  Last
 year's Budget Plan payment was $53 per month for the typical customer using
 1,200 ccf of gas.
     "The Budget Plan is popular with many customers because it offers them the
 opportunity to pay their annual gas bill in 12 equal payments, so they don't
 have to worry about surprises this winter.  Given the sharp increase in gas
 prices, we hope more customers will take a close look at the Budget Plan and
 how it can help them manage their winter heating bills," said Carl L. English,
 Consumers Energy's president and chief executive officer - gas.
     Customers who also get electric service from Consumers Energy can include
 their electric use in the Budget Plan.  The typical residential electric
 customer paid $60 per month for electric service under the Budget Plan for
 2000-2001.  That number will remain the same, so the typical customer getting
 gas and electric service from Consumers Energy will have a Budget Plan bill of
 about $140 per month over the next 12 months.
     Residential electric rates were cut 5 percent last June and frozen at
 least through Dec. 31, 2005 by the state's electric restructuring law.  Rates
 for large commercial and industrial electric customers were capped through
 2003 and rates for small business customers were capped through 2004.
     Consumers Energy, the principal subsidiary of CMS Energy, is Michigan's
 largest utility providing natural gas and electricity to more than six million
 of the state's 9.9 million residents in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties.
 
                     MAKE YOUR OPINION COUNT -  Click Here
                http://tbutton.prnewswire.com/prn/11690X85418181
 
 SOURCE  Consumers Energy