Texas Should Pay People's Massive, Post-Storm Energy Bills, Houston Mayor Says
The Mayor of Houston said Sunday the state of Texas should pay for the exorbitant energy bills reported by many Texans after last week's disastrous winter weather that cut electricity for millions.
Many Texas residents have reported stratospheric energy costs, some as high as thousands of dollars, as snow, ice, and historic cold ravaged the state, leaving dozens of deaths.
Unlike the rest of the continental United States, the Texas power grid operates its own power grid, which is largely unregulated. High demand during a supply crisis - like last week's Heizblitz last week when power plants were paralyzed - can lead to dramatic price increases for residents with floating-rate electricity plans.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said in an interview on Sunday that Texas lawmakers are responsible for the pervasive and predictable flaws in the state's power grid.
"All of this was foreseeable," Turner said on CBS 'Face the Nation. "For these exorbitant costs, consumers shouldn't pay that cost. They aren't to blame for what happened this week. ... These bills, these exorbitant costs, should be borne by the state of Texas."
The mayor added the state should "open" its power grid or risk a repeat scenario.
Many of the power generation systems in Texas went down last week due to the weather as demand increased. Frozen natural gas pipelines and power plants that were not prepared for frost were the main culprits.
The state's power grid was "seconds and minutes" away from catastrophic outage and cascading problems that would have left those millions without power for months, said Bill Magness, president of the Texas Electricity Reliability Council, which manages about 90 percent of the state's power.
The network operators reacted with rolling power outages, which left many in the brutal cold without heat.
Electricity prices in Texas are typically 12 cents per kilowatt hour during the winter, according to NPR, but last week those prices soared up to $ 9 per kilowatt hour. Some residents whose electricity was kept have reported bills close to $ 17,000 because risky energy contracts can be inexpensive when electricity is cheap but outrageous when it's expensive.
Governor Greg Abbott (R) responded to those concerns Sunday, saying the state was working to figure out how to stop residents from bearing heavy bills. The Public Utilities Commission issued two orders to temporarily prevent utility companies from disconnecting customers who haven't paid their bills and another to prevent companies from sending bills until the state decides what to do is.
"We have a responsibility to protect Texans from spikes in their energy bills due to severe winter weather and power outages," Abbott said in a statement. "We're quick to resolve this issue and this week we'll be working together on solutions to help families in Texas make sure they don't get stuck with skyrocketing energy bills."
Most Texans have now restored their power. About 16,000 people were off duty on Sunday evening.
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This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.
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