As Texas deep freeze subsides, some households now face electricity bills as high as $10,000

  

Category:  News & Politics

Via:  john-russell  •  one week ago  •  13 comments

By:   Leticia Miranda (NBC News)

As Texas deep freeze subsides, some households now face electricity bills as high as $10,000
Some families in Texas have seen their electricity bill tick up to as much as $10,000, as freezing temperatures and high demand overwhelmed the power grid.

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T



Feb. 19, 2021, 8:52 PM UTC / Updated Feb. 19, 2021, 9:06 PM UTC By Leticia Miranda

As the Texas power grid collapsed under a historic winter storm, Jose Del Rio of Haltom City, in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, saw the electricity bill on a vacant two-bedroom home he is trying to sell slowly creep up over the past two weeks. Typically, the bill is around $125 to $150 a month, he said. But his account has already been charged about $630 this month — and he still owes another $2,600.

"If worse comes to worst, I have the ability to put it on a credit card or figure something out," Del Rio said. "There is no one living in that house. All the lights are off. But I have the air at 60 because I don't want the pipes to freeze."

When he contacted Griddy, his electric company, they advised him to switch providers, Del Rio said.

NC_txelectricbill0218_1920x1080.focal-760x428.jpg

Skyrocketing electric bills add to Texas power woes


Feb. 18, 202102:09

Griddy's prices are controlled by the market, and are therefore vulnerable to sudden swings in demand. With the extreme weather, energy usage has soared, pushing up wholesale power prices to more than $9,000 per megawatt hour — compared to the seasonal average of $50 per megawatt hour.

In the face of the soaring costs, Griddy has been directing consumers to consider temporarily switching electricity providers to save on their bills.

Griddy did not respond to NBC News' request for comment.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT, which manages power for about 90 percent of the state's electric load, was unprepared for the frigid conditions of the past two weeks: The primary electric grid was hit with off-the-charts demand for power as Texans tried to heat their homes — demand that outpaced utility officials' highest estimates for an extreme peak load.

"I'm taking responsibility for the current status of ERCOT," Gov. Greg Abbott told reporters on Thursday.

Customers outside the ERCOT service area have also been hit with sticker shock. Veronica Garcia, a Reliant Energy customer in Mansfield, Texas, told NBC News her bill is projected to be twice as much as she typically pays a month for electricity. She last paid $63 on Feb. 11 to power her one-bedroom apartment, but her bill is projected to be between $114 and $133 in March, according to documents reviewed by NBC News.

Her home didn't have power for about three hours early Tuesday morning. But since the storm hit, she hasn't been using much power. She left her apartment Tuesday to stay with her mother-in-law because of the cold.

"Hopefully if they're decent, they won't charge people for this, because we had no control over the situation," said Garcia, who is an administrative associate at UT Southwestern Medical Center. "Hopefully I can beat the charges and they do the right thing."

Reliant Energy spokesperson Megan Talley told NBC News that it is offering flexible bill payment options to support customers impacted by the storm. It said customers should contact the company directly "so we can work with them through this difficult time."

Oncor Electric Delivery, which distributes wholesale electricity for Reliant Energy, did not respond to NBC News' request for comment.

Texas laws protect consumers from companies exploiting natural disasters for profit, but it is unclear if those laws can be extended to protect electric customers slapped with large bills, said Keegan Warren-Clem, a managing attorney at the nonprofit Texas Legal Services Center.

Federal programs such as the low-income housing energy assistance program might protect energy customers who qualify from the high charges, she said. If they don't qualify for the federal program, a customer can look into bill assistance programs through charities or churches, she said.

"There are limited options available in the absence of action at the state level to provide consistent relief," Warren-Clem said.

Customers may be able to work with their credit card issuers on a plan to cover the bill over time, said Matt Schulz, chief industry analyst with LendingTree. He said credit card companies have become more flexible with borrowers over the course of the pandemic.

"The last thing an awful lot of people need right now is a higher electric bill — and that's unfortunately something a lot of people will get stuck with," Schulz said.

Royce Pierce and his wife, Danielle, who live in Willow Park, west of Dallas, have been watching their electricity bill tick up by nearly $10,000 in the last few days for their three-bedroom home. While the family told NBC News they consider themselves lucky because they've had power, the financial burden has come with additional challenges.

Since the family is on a variable rate plan with Griddy, the company automatically debits the bill as they use electricity. Danielle said she closed the debit card connected to their electricity bill because Griddy wiped it out. The family has been using separate accounts and credit cards to pay for necessities as the storm goes on.

"We are hoping there will be relief," Royce said. "This is something maybe we can skate by and tackle as time goes on but how many people can't? A lot."

Leticia Miranda

Leticia Miranda is a business reporter for NBC News.


Tags

jrDiscussion - desc
[]
 
JohnRussell
Professor Principal
1  seeder  JohnRussell    one week ago
As the Texas power grid collapsed under a historic winter storm, Jose Del Rio of Haltom City, in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, saw the electricity bill on a vacant two-bedroom home he is trying to sell slowly creep up over the past two weeks. Typically, the bill is around $125 to $150 a month, he said. But his account has already been charged about $630 this month — and he still owes another $2,600.

"If worse comes to worst, I have the ability to put it on a credit card or figure something out," Del Rio said. "There is no one living in that house. All the lights are off. But I have the air at 60 because I don't want the pipes to freeze."

When he contacted Griddy, his electric company, they advised him to switch providers, Del Rio said.

This is all ridiculous. They want to charge people thousands of dollars for a few days electricity. The American people need to stop tolerating such garbage. 

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
2  Kavika     one week ago

Bizarre to say the least. The power grid goes down and now they can charge whatever they want. Ain't Texas great.

 
 
 
JohnRussell
Professor Principal
2.1  seeder  JohnRussell  replied to  Kavika @2    one week ago

People can't pay that. Are they basing electricity prices now on what multimillionaires can afford to  pay ? 

 
 
 
Hallux
Freshman Participates
3  Hallux    one week ago

There must be some way to blame this on China.

 
 
 
Tessylo
PhD Principal
3.1  Tessylo  replied to  Hallux @3    one week ago

Or President Biden

 
 
 
Hallux
Freshman Participates
3.1.1  Hallux  replied to  Tessylo @3.1    one week ago

Aren't they one in the the same?

 
 
 
Greg Jones
Senior Participates
3.2  Greg Jones  replied to  Hallux @3    one week ago
There must be some way to blame this on China.

Or Trump. But it happened on Biden's watch, so he gets the blame

 
 
 
Mark in Wyoming
Professor Silent
4  Mark in Wyoming     one week ago

cant say i am surprised really, after a quick look i found that texas closed a few powerplants over the last 5 or so years , in the rush to get away from coal  and somewhat from fossil fuels, and because  of federal government EPA regulations , without an workable , realistic plan to replace that capacity to generate power .

 
 
 
Greg Jones
Senior Participates
4.1  Greg Jones  replied to  Mark in Wyoming @4    one week ago
without an workable , realistic plan to replace that capacity to generate power .

So they took the renewable route

 
 
 
Mark in Wyoming
Professor Silent
4.1.1  Mark in Wyoming   replied to  Greg Jones @4.1    one week ago
So they took the renewable route

at a higher cost for output to reclaim the investment even if they only tried to reclaim the investment in ifrastructure and didnt make any profits, and i will add also at the cost of possable precautions to avoid overloads and shutdowns due to demand.

 
 
 
CB
Professor Principal
5  CB     one week ago

Texas, well Texas, is getting acquainted with what it means to have millions of people 'flood the zone.' A 'for real' big state and its cities can not indulge itself on small-minded governance. Texas, asked for California businesses 'to come,' for California citizens to migrate, and now in Texas "shit happens."

Texans are going to demand answers and then action and that leads to new services and that results in spending more dollars and raising more taxes to keep people safe, alive, and yes "comfortable.' 

Texas welcome to the world of living metropolitan. Sadly, there will be more homeless Texans dotting the landscape . . . .

 
 
 
Freefaller
PhD Guide
6  Freefaller    one week ago

I saw another article this morning where some Texas natural gas company sent it's customers notification that there bills were $202,021.00 due by 4 March. Turns out it was a glitch in their billing system but wow would that ever get the heart rate up.

 
 
 
Tacos!
PhD Guide
7  Tacos!    one week ago

It's hard to imagine that this kind of gouging in an emergency would even be legal. From the site of the Texas Attorney General :

Price gouging is illegal , and the Office of the Attorney General has authority to prosecute any business that engages in price gouging after a disaster has been declared by the governor or president. The attorney general has issued stern warnings about price gouging to businesses in times of disaster, but you should still be on your guard. §17.46(b) of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices-Consumer Protection Act provides that it is a false, misleading or deceptive act or practice to take advantage of a disaster declared by the Governor under Chapter 418, Government Code, or the President by:
  1. Selling or leasing fuel, food, medicine, lodging, building materials, construction tools, or another necessity at an exorbitant or excessive price; or
  2. Demanding an exorbitant or excessive price in connection with the sale or lease of fuel, food, medicine, lodging, building materials, construction tools, or another necessity .

The governor issued a disaster declaration related to the storm on February 12. Additionally, there is an ongoing disaster declaration for Covid. Surely electricity or any heating source in a snow storm would qualify as a "necessity." No?

 
 
Loading...
Loading...

Who is online



Sean Treacy


42 visitors