Texas Bans Power Companies From Charging Customers After Ridiculous $17,000 Bills
Texas Governor Greg Abbott has announced that power companies will be temporarily banned from billing customers after last week’s Arctic cold snap.
Residents in the state experienced freezing temperatures as the winter storm descended last Monday, February 15, leading homeowners to turn up their heating in a desperate bid to stay warm.
As the demand for heat and electricity increased, some energy suppliers took advantage by hiking up their prices, leading to homeowners being hit with bills demanding thousands of dollars in payment.
In the wake of reports about the expensive bills, Abbott called an emergency meeting with lawmakers on Saturday, February 20.
Following the meeting, he announced the Public Utility Commission of Texas will order electricity companies to pause sending bills to customers, and will temporarily ban companies from disconnecting customers for not paying their bills.
Speaking to reporters, as per Reuters, the governor said:
Texans who have suffered through days of freezing cold without power should not be subjected to skyrocketing energy bills.
The issue about utility bills and the skyrocketing prices that so many homeowners and renters are facing is the top priority for the Texas legislature right now.
With the hold in place, the state will use the time to find a way to protect utility customers.
In Texas, a deregulated energy market allows consumers to choose between a range of competing electricity providers, some of which sell electricity at prices that rise in relation to demand.
Though many residents experienced a loss of power during the storm, some of those who still had power found themselves with bills of $5,000 for just a five-day period, according to photos of invoices customers shared online.
In an interview with CBS News, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said the electricity bills should ‘go to the state of Texas’.
When they’re getting these exorbitant electricity bills and they’re having to pay for their homes, repair their homes, they should not have to bear the responsibility.
Senator Ted Cruz, who faced criticism for leaving Texas in the midst of the storm, responded to news of the bills by distancing himself from the free-market system, despite having previously expressed praise for it.
On Twitter, he wrote:
This is WRONG. No power company should get a windfall because of a natural disaster, and Texans shouldn’t get hammered by ridiculous rate increases for last week’s energy debacle. State and local regulators should act swiftly to prevent this injustice.
With the weather in Texas now back to more regular temperatures, power has been restored to most of the affected homes.
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