ST. PAUL (AP) -- Minnesota regulators have admonished the state's largest natural gas utility for how it handled a recent rate hike refund.

CenterPoint Energy customers were left with checks that bounced or late payment fees after the utility reversed rate refunds to customers because it miscalculated sales taxes. Nearly 16,000 customers were hit with late fees due to delays in the corrected refund amounts. And for some customers enrolled in automatic bank payments, it meant charges for nonsufficient funds.

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, at a meeting in St. Paul Thursday, told CenterPoint representatives the utility company was ``in the dog house'' because of the bungle. CenterPoint executive Amber Lee told commissioners the utility was taking steps to make sure it doesn't happen again.

CenterPoint has about 857,000 customers in Minnesota.