Texans hit with thousands in energy bills as storms ravage power supply

And the state ordered prices even higher to match surging demands

Josh Marcus
San Francisco
Friday 19 February 2021 01:02
Comments
Snow storm continues to wreck havoc in US

Texans are facing a crisis inside of a crisis as snow hammers the state: astronomical heating bills.

Akilah Scott-Amos told The Daily Beast on Wednesday she was being charged north of $400 a day, and currently owes the wholesale power provider Griddy $2896.11, compared to $33 bill she paid the company the same month last year.

“This is a double-edged sword,” she said. “Thankfully we have power, but at what price? We are using it minimally and getting charged thousands. Most people I know don’t even have power, and I’m getting these outrageous bills.”

Griddy told its nearly 30,000 customers to consider switching energy providers altogether, the Dallas Morning News reported on Monday, as a huge spike in energy prices caused by high demand could exposure account holders to massive bills.

“We want what’s right by our customers, so we are encouraging them to leave. We believe that transparency and that honesty will bring them back,” Griddy CEO Michael Fallquist said at the time.

Another Texan, Royce Pierce, told TheDaily Beast he’d wracked up $7000 in energy bills in just two days.

Annie Shields, an editor at The Nation, said on Twitter that her sister had been charged a whopping $202,102 from CenterPoint Energy on her bill, though the company later clarified the amount was an error.

This is her normal utility bill from the gas company. It’s usually less than $20. How many people are getting bills like this and worrying about going bankrupt now??”

Steep bills are the latest obstacle facine state, where hundreds of thousands remain without power or heat.

As cold weather knocked out the natural gas supply and froze some wind turbines, customers were in the midst of a huge need for energy to keep warm, a simultaneous supply and demand crunch that shot energy rates way up, from $50 to $9,000 per megawatt.

The need to curb energy use was so dire one utility offered customers a chance to win a Tesla if they limited usage. 

Making matters even more dire, on Tuesday, Texas’s Power Utility Commission, which regulates the Electricity Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), ordered the nonprofit grid operator to raise prices, arguing it wasn’t accurately reflecting the high demand in the market.

“Energy prices should reflect scarcity of the supply,” the order said.

Fred Anders, who runs the site texaspowerguide.com, said customers could be paying hundreds of dollars a day.

“For the average home in Texas, it translates to roughly $450 a day if they didn’t curtail their usage at all,” he told KHOU.

On Tuesday, Texas governor Greg Abbott ordered an investigation into ERCOT.

"The Electric Reliability Council of Texas has been anything but reliable over the past 48 hours," he said in a statement. "Far too many Texans are without power and heat for their homes as our state faces freezing temperatures and severe winter weather. This is unacceptable,"

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