China Daily (Hong Kong)
Power firms in Texas ordered to stop sending huge electric bills
HOUSTON — Authorities in the US state of Texas on Sunday signed orders to temporarily stop power companies from sending very high electric bills to customers after the area got hit by severe weather and massive blackouts.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott said in a news conference on Sunday the recent spike in energy bills was “the top priority for the Texas Legislature right now”, adding he and other officials are working fast to find solutions to the issue.
“Texans who have suffered through days of freezing cold without power should not be subjected to skyrocketing energy bills,” Abbott told reporters.
Local media outlets said the Texas Public Utility Commission on Sunday met to sign two orders, one of which was to stop companies from sending invoices or bill estimates to customers “until we work through issues of how we are going to financially manage the situation we are in”, said commission chair DeAnn Walker.
The other one would order energy providers to temporarily stop disconnecting customers from power or water because they have not paid.
As families try their best to find reliable water and food, some are worried about their abnormally high electricity rates.
The power cost for some went up unbelievably for the time when the power was on and even some for when it was off during the extreme winter weather.
$17,000 for five-day use
Customers of the electric company Griddy, which gives real-time access to the power grid wholesale, found their bills unbelievably high.
A customer from northern Texas told Fox News he got an electric bill of $17,000 over five days of use, even though his family did what they could to conserve. In Houston, a Griddy customer told KTRK TV station that her bill this week totaled $5,500.
“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 help with the bills.
Griddy had urged their customers to switch companies before the winter storm because of a high price forecast, but customers found they were unable to change, either because they could not find a provider that took new customers, or the switch time
would take at least one week.
At least 69 deaths across the United States have been blamed on the blast of unseasonable weather.
The White House announced on Saturday that US President Joe Biden had declared a major disaster in Texas and he has asked federal agencies to identify additional resources to address the suffering.
Biden’s disaster declaration for Texas makes federal funding available to people harmed by the storm, including assistance for temporary housing and home repairs and low-cost loans.