Texans Are Being Being Slapped with Electric Bills as Much as $17K

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Posted: Feb 20, 2021 3:40 PM
Texans Are Being Being Slapped with Electric Bills as Much as $17K

Source: AP Photo/David J. Phillip

Millions of Texans have been without electricity and heat throughout the week due to a severe winter storm. Despite most being out of electricity or using a small amount, customers are now being hit with expensive electric bills.

When the electric grid went down, the price per Megawatt went from $50 to $9,000, WFAA-TV reported. That translates to $9 a kilowatt-hour, compared to the usual price between two and seven cents per kilowatt-hour, Dallas News reported.

Most customers weren't impacted because they're on a fixed-rate plan. But for those who use the electric company Gritty, their prices went through the roof. The reason is those customers are on plans that are market-driven. With a higher demand, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) agreed to raise energy prices so the prices accurately reflected the available supply. ERCOT set the cap at $9,000 per megawatt-hour. 

"The price per megawatt-hour reached $9,000 around 10 p.m. Sunday night and stayed there for much of Monday and all of Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday," Dallas News reported. "Friday morning, it fell to $35 and kept dropping. At 4 p.m., it was 85 cents."

One customer, Ty Williams, told WFAA that his electric bill last month was a combined $660 for his home, guest house and office. For this month, so far, his bill is now $17,000.

“How in the world can anyone pay that? I mean you go from a couple hundred dollars a month...there’s absolutely no way...it makes no sense," Williams said.

To make matters even worse, Gritty encouraged customers to quickly leave their plan and go to a fixed-rate plan with another company. Other companies, however, weren't taking new customers while the storm continues. 

Others took to Twitter to share their electric bills, all of which are over $1,000.

Griddy says they're hoping ERCOT and the Texas Public Utility Commission will provide relief for customers.

"On Tuesday, Griddy began engaging with ERCOT and the PUCT seeking customer relief. Griddy is continuing these efforts and is committed to crediting customers for any relief received, dollar-for-dollar," the company said in a statement. "Griddy is working to win relief for its customers and continue offering innovative products and services in the retail energy market in Texas."

Gov. Greg Abbott (R) has called for an investigation into ERCOT and how they came to their decision.

“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. Reviewing the preparations and decisions by ERCOT is an emergency item so we can get a full picture of what caused this problem and find long-term solutions," the governor said in a statement. "I thank my partners in the House and Senate for acting quickly on this challenge, and I will work with them to enhance Texas’ electric grid and ensure that our state never experiences power outages like this again.”

The Public Utilities Commission said they are taking steps to help Texans with their high energy bills.