The situation has become a topic of discussion among state and municipal governments
Mayors of two major Texas cities said the state should help pay some of the shocking electric bills sent to local residents after a devastating and deadly winter storm caused massive blackouts.
Texas has a highly unusual deregulated electricity market, allowing consumers to choose suppliers from dozens of competing companies.
Some suppliers sell electricity at wholesale prices, rising along with demand, which soared when the state, unaccustomed to the cold, was hit by record-breaking frosts that left at least two dozen people dead and more than 4 million people without power.
As a result, some Texans who could still turn on their lights or use their refrigerator received bills of $5,000 or more for just five days of electricity use. Pictures of the bills posted on social media show this.
The Dallas Morning News reported that one provider, which offered a wholesale rate, urged thousands of customers to change supplier before the storm arrived to avoid high prices, but many decided the procedure would take too long.
“Such a bill should be sent to the state of Texas,” Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner told CBS News. – “When they get such exorbitant electric bills, and they have to pay for their homes, repair them, they shouldn’t be responsible.
Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price told CBS that state and federal authorities should help pay the bills.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Saturday called an emergency meeting of state lawmakers to discuss the problem, saying they have a responsibility to make sure Texans “don’t get into debt with skyrocketing electric bills.”
At the same time, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sent inquiries to energy companies as part of a civil investigation into outages, emergency plans and pricing. He said the companies were “completely wrong” to act under the weather emergency.
U.S. President Joe Biden issued a proclamation Saturday declaring Texas a large-scale disaster area. This allows federal funds to help people affected by the storm, including help with temporary housing, home repairs and low-interest loans.
All power plants were back online this weekend, and power returned to most homes as the weather normalized. However, water supply problems persist, and millions of Texans have been advised to boil water before drinking.