Abbott Says Texas Residents With Utility Bill Spikes Should Be Protected
HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 18: People line up at a propane gas station to refill their tanks after winter weather caused electricity blackouts on February 18, 2021 in Houston, Texas. Winter storm Uri brought severe temperature drops causing a catastrophic failure of the power grid in Texas. About two million people are without electricity throughout Houston.
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Governor Gregg Abbott said Saturday that Texas has a responsibility to its residents to protect them from “skyrocketing energy bills,” remarks that come amidst reports that some Texans have been slapped with four- or even five-figure bills for their electricity.

“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,” said Abbott, after meeting with legislators Saturday to discuss prices. “Today’s meeting was productive, and I applaud Republican and Democrat members of the Legislature for putting aside partisan politics to work together on this challenge. We are moving quickly to alleviate this problem and will continue to work collaboratively throughout this week on solutions to help Texas families and ensure they do not get stuck with skyrocketing energy bills.”

Many of the Texans who have been reporting sky-high energy bills use Griddy, a utility company that charges a $10 monthly fee and, in exchange, sells electricity to consumers at wholesale prices, reports The New York Times. While this typically results in cheaper energy, it resulted in a dramatic price jump when energy became scarce and the Public Utilities Commission increased the maximum cost of energy to $9 per kilowatt-hour.

“I don’t feel like I’ve used $6,700 of electricity in the last decade,” DeAndré Upshaw, a Griddy customer whose utility bill exceeded $6,700 as a result of the winter weather event, told The New York Times. “That’s not a cost that any reasonable person would have to pay for five days of intermittent electric service being used at the bare minimum.”

“My savings is gone,” said Scott Willoughby, a 63-year-old retired veteran and Griddy customer who was reportedly charged $16,752. Willoughby told the Times he nearly drained his savings to pay the bill, commenting: “There’s nothing I can do about it.”

According to ABC-13, Griddy went as far as to urge all of its customers to switch to a different provider last Sunday, but some customers had trouble finding a new one or were told by other companies that they weren’t taking new customers at this time.

The New York Times reports that Griddy “appeared to try to shift anger toward the Public Utilities Commission” in a statement on Thursday, which reads: “We intend to fight this for, and alongside, our customers for equity and accountability – to reveal why such price increases were allowed to happen as millions of Texans went without power.”

According to the governor’s office, Abbott has discussed with state legislators, both Democrats and Republicans, “the need to quickly calculate the total cost of these energy bills and how the state can help reduce this burden.”

Related: Biden Issues Disaster Declaration For Texas Amidst Severe Winter Weather

Related: Texas Electric Bills Soar, Some Up To $10,000, As Deep Freeze Begins To Wane

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