Sunday, February 28, 2021

Texas: Citizens get ridiculously high electricity bills after the cold spell


Massive onset of winter
$ 16,000 for a few days: Texans get ridiculous electricity bills

The severe winter storms temporarily cut off electricity for many people in Texas

© Ralph Lauer / ZUMA Wire / DPA

Texas had to contend with a massive cold snap last week that put parts of the electricity grid out of action. Many a person who still had electricity has now received a hefty bill for it.

Many Texans are still struggling with the aftermath of the severe onset of winter last week. But when the temperatures pick up again and the situation eases, some citizens are confronted with unusually high electricity bills. A local resident reported to the New York Times that his provider was charging him more than $ 16,000 for a few days of electricity usage. And it’s not an isolated case: many users share their bills of $ 5,000 and more on Twitter. The Mayor of Houston is now calling for the state of Texas to settle the astronomical bills.

The massive costs do not apply to all Texas citizens. Especially those with flexible electricity tariffs are affected, as reported by several US media. Texan electricity customers could sign contracts that would bring them cheap prices under most conditions. But last week the temperatures fell to a completely unusual minus 18 degrees Celsius for the state, which led to several large-scale network failures and an associated reduction in supply. As a result, the price of electricity exploded in these tariffs.

According to National Public Radio (NPR), Griddy is a widespread provider of such a tariff. Last week, the company even encouraged its customers to switch providers because they saw what would happen to their tariffs in the event of a network failure. But of course not all consumers responded to the call, especially since a change takes a few days.

Typically, Texans pay an average of around 12 cents per kilowatt hour of electricity. According to NPR, the relevant commission allowed this price to go up to nine dollars. Many of the invoices were correspondingly massive.

Texas: Governor calls emergency meeting

Texas Governor Greg Abbott convened an emergency meeting this weekend to discuss the surge in energy costs. “We have a responsibility to protect Texans from spikes in their energy bills due to extreme weather conditions and outages,” he said. It is still unclear how many citizens are affected by the inflated bills. Calculating this is one of the urgent tasks, the governor’s office said over the weekend.

The massive cold spell paralyzed large parts of Texas last week. The power supply collapsed because the demand for heating increased massively and there were also problems with energy production, among other things because of frozen pipelines. Many supermarkets had to remain closed, and at least 70 people across the country died in the cold. The state, otherwise known for its mild winters, was extensively covered with snow and ice. The situation had eased significantly over the weekend, but by noon on Monday, more than 10,000 Texas households were still without electricity.

Swell: US Energie-Informationsministerium / Poweroutage.us / National Public Radio / “Texas Tribune” / BBC

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