In Newsweek today, Alexandra Garrett reports on a residual effect of the Texas power outage crisis. It seems that citizens are receiving astronomical billing from the utility companies. It’s at a point where top brass are getting involved to lean on the energy companies…and we believe, rightfully so. Here’s the report:
Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott condemned the rising cost of electricity Saturday after several residents reported exponential increases to their power bills—amid the severe winter weather conditions that caused power outages for much of the state.
“It is unacceptable for Texans who suffered through days in the freezing cold without electricity or heat to now be hit with skyrocketing energy costs,” Abbott said on Saturday before a meeting with 11 lawmakers to discuss the issue.
The meeting was attended by Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick and Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives Dade Phelan, among others.
During the meeting, the lawmakers discussed how to “reduce this burden,” so that “Texans are not left with unreasonable utility bills they cannot afford because of the temporary massive spike in the energy market,” according to a Saturday release from Abbott’s office.
The cost of power on Texas’s grid rose exponentially amid the outages caused by severe weather conditions. On Monday, electricity prices soared as high as $9,000 a megawatt-hour.
Before Texas was hit by extreme weather conditions last week, the price of electricity was less than $50 per megawatt-hour, according to data from the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (EROCT).
As the wholesale price of power soared, Texans who aren’t on fixed-rate plans received abnormally high bills.
Scott Willoughby, a resident of Royce City, Texas, told NBC 5 that he owes the power company Griddy nearly $14,000 for the month of February.
Another Texas resident, Royce Pierce, similarly owes the power company more than $8,000 for his electricity use. Pierce’s power bill was $387.79 last month.
“We have a responsibility to protect Texans from spikes in their energy bills that are a result of the severe winter weather and power outages,” said Abbott in a statement on Saturday.
“We are moving quickly to alleviate this problem and will continue to work collaboratively throughout this week on solutions to help Texas families and ensure they do not get stuck with skyrocketing energy bills,” Abbott continued.
Texas has been experiencing widespread outages since 1:25 a.m. CT on Monday when ERCOT called on transmission companies to limit power availability to residents in an effort to avoid a total blackout during the severe weather conditions.
The state has been facing unprecedented amounts of snowfall and record-breaking cold temperatures for the area since last week.
Last week more than 4 million residents were left without power or heat. The majority of homes regained power by Saturday, but millions of Texans now face a water crisis.
Newsweek reached out to Abbott’s office, but didn’t hear back in time for publication.
- Alexandra Garrett