Texans who managed to keep their power during the historic winter storm earlier this month won’t see their electric bills reduced retroactively.
Some saw their electric bills jump to more than $10,000 during the storm due to a jump in electric company rates, and the Public Utility Commission of Texas on Friday determined it would not give consumers a break, NPR reported.
“In January, Dallas resident Shannon Marrs paid $257 for electricity. But after Texas suffered the worst winter storm in years, Marrs’ February electricity bill totaled more than $10,000,” the outlet noted. “That’s because for a period of 32 hours during the deepest freeze of February’s winter storm, power companies were paying $9 per kilowatt-hour for electricity — about 75 times higher than the state’s average winter costs. Companies passed those costs on to consumers.”
The PUC, Texas’ utility regulator, chose not to retroactively reduce consumer bills, claiming such a decision would cause more harm in the long run.
“We just see the tip of the iceberg,” Texas PUC Chairman Arthur D’Andrea said. “You don’t know who you’re hurting. You think you’re protecting the consumer and turns out you’re bankrupting a co-op or a city. And so it’s dangerous, after something is run, to go around and redo it.”
NPR also reported that Texas’ independent market monitor, Potomac Economics, pointed out that increased electricity prices were inflated for longer than necessary. The monitor “calculated that the inflated electricity rate during that time period led to $16 billion in additional charges,” the outlet reported.
D’Andrea, however, continued to defend the decision not to reduce electricity bills.
“Decisions were made about these prices in real time based on information that was available to everybody, to all market participants,” D’Andrea said, according to NPR. “And they did all sorts of things that they wouldn’t have done if the prices were different. And it’s just nearly impossible to unscramble this sort of egg.”
“And the results of going down this path are unknowable,” D’Andrea added. “I know, on the surface, it looks like — oh no, it’s just money that generators got, and if you reverse it, it will go to the consumers. But that is very simplistic, and it’s not how it works.”
As The Daily Wire previously reported the winter storm that hit Texas earlier this month knocked out power for millions of residents, leading to soaring gas and electricity prices.
“The cold southern weather created a situation where fuel demand increased at the same time production capabilities were stymied. Energy prices went up as a result. The electric grid struggled to keep up with the need, which made some utilities enforce blackouts,” The Daily Wire reported.
Natural gas prices jumped 6.7%, while gasoline futures spiked more than 4%.
As NBC reported earlier this month, Texas’ “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.”