National Post (Latest Edition)

Texans facing $5K electric bills after storm

Mayors say state should help cover costs

- LINDA SO AND JONATHAN ALLEN

The mayors of two of the largest cities in Texas said the state should help pay some of the eye-watering electricit­y bills sent to residents after the devastatin­g and deadly winter storm that caused widespread blackouts.

Texas has a highly unusual deregulate­d energy market that allows consumers to choose between scores of competing electricit­y providers.

Some providers sell electricit­y at wholesale prices that rise in sync with demand, which skyrockete­d as a record-breaking freeze gripped a state unaccustom­ed to extreme cold, killing at least two dozen people and knocking out power to more than four million people at its peak.

As a result, some Texans who were still able to turn on lights or keep their fridge running found themselves with bills of us$5,000 or more for only five days of usage, according to photos of invoices posted on social

THE BILL SHOULD GO TO THE STATE OF TEXAS.

media by angry consumers.

The dallas Morning News said one provider offering a wholesale tariff plan had urged its thousands of customers to switch suppliers ahead of the storm to avoid high prices, but many found it would take too long to change their provider.

“The bill should go to the state of Texas,” Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said in an interview with CBS News on Sunday. “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.”

Fort Worth Mayor betsy Price told CBS both the state and the federal government should be expected to help with the bills.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott called an emergency meeting of state lawmakers on Saturday to discuss the problem, saying in a statement that they had a responsibi­lity to ensure Texans “do not get stuck with skyrocketi­ng energy bills.”

Separately, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has issued civil investigat­ive demands to power companies regarding the outages, their emergency plans and pricing, saying that the companies “grossly mishandled” the weather emergency.

u.s. President Joe biden approved a major disaster declaratio­n for Texas on Saturday that makes federal funding available to people harmed by the storm, including assistance for temporary housing and home repairs and low-cost loans.

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