The winter storm that devastated Texas hard last week took out power throughout the state. While most residents didn’t even have the power to boil water, others were blessed enough to be able to turn on their lights. Now, those lucky few are facing extremely high electric bills.
According to The New York Times’ report published Saturday (Feb. 20), numerous customers who managed to keep their lights on during the storm received expensive electric bills from Griddy, which is a small company based in Houston that provides electricity at wholesale prices. Scott Willoughby, a 63-year-old Army veteran who lives on Social Security payments near Dallas, was charged $16,752 for his electric bill.
Unfortunately, Griddy’s prices are able to change quickly based on supply and demand. Texas’ Public Utilities Commission reportedly ordered that the price cap be raised to its maximum limit of $9 per kilowatt-hour, which explains why customers’ daily bills shot up over $100.
“To the Texas Utilities Commission: What are you thinking, allowing the average type of household to sign up for this kind of program?” the director of the energy program at Public Citizen, Tyson Slocum, said of Griddy. “The risk-reward is so out of whack that it never should have been permitted in the first place.”
Since reports of the surging costs of customer bills surfaced, Governor Greg Abbott held an emergency meeting with lawmakers on Saturday to propose a plan to halt all the outrageous charges. His intention is to have legislators on both sides of the aisle work together to ensure Texans aren’t reduced to paying off the extremely high bills.
“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,” Abbott said.
The skyrocketing electric bills are just one of the numerous problems the residents of the Lone Star state have been dealing with since the storm hit. At least 21 people and counting have died in 10 other states including Texas.