A recent story from Fox News tells of a Texas man who received a $17,000 electric bill after the recent snowstorm. His power stayed on throughout the crisis and in turn, he was charged $9 per kilowatt.
Although the electric company apologized and agreed to refund his money, it creates a concern of electrical companies being allowed to increase prices during hard times.
Though the electric companies in Texas are largely unregulated because the state does not normally experience extreme cold weather, many Texas companies have a fixed base rate for just this reason.
In a wholesale market, electric companies compete for the best prices. However, five companies already offer fixed base rates to the consumer. Competing companies could follow suit as this fixed rate would allow Texas to control its rates in a way that meets the needs of the people.
Being that Texas does not experience this type of weather often, companies could bill their customers for actual usage, not for spikes in energy across the board. Residents with variable-rate power plans were hit the hardest. They are on plans that charge different prices for electricity depending on the current demand.
The yearly and monthly rates should affect the amount that is paid during a storm, not spikes. Texas deserves the chance to have a week of bad weather and not pay extra for it. If not fixed, spikes in bills could be expected in future disasters. Regular citizens may be unable to pay the huge costs of energy-critical times.
With that being said, Gov. Greg Abbott has added 31 Texas counties to the Major Disaster Declaration made by President Joe Biden, a relief from the massive influx of bills. Texans are urged to fill out the Texas Division of Emergency Management’s Texas Individual Assistance Reporting Tool (TIART) to help the state identify damages across Texas and help emergency management officials gain an understanding of damages that occurred.
If you or someone you know have experienced higher-than-normal electric rates, you may be eligible for individual assistance.