Houston Mayor Says Texas Should Pay Massive Residential Utility Bills After Millions Lost Power

Kimberly Redmond  |

Video source: YouTube, Face the Nation

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner believes the state of Texas should pay the massive utility bills that some households are facing following last week’s severe winter weather that knocked out power to millions of people and sent energy prices skyrocketing.

During an interview Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Turner said, “For people getting these exorbitant electricity bills and having to pay to repair their homes, they should not have to bear the responsibility.” 

The Democratic mayor added, “These exorbitant costs should be borne by the state of Texas and not the individual customers who did not cause this catastrophe this week.”

Frigid conditions caused major power grid failures and increased demand that left millions of people without electricity and heat. As power resumes for most of the state, some households face bills thousands of dollars higher than what they typically pay for utility use. 

According to a report by The New York Times, one man was charged $16,752 on his electricity bill, about 70 times what he usually pays.

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In the state’s deregulated energy market, utility companies were able to charge more because of increased demand during the cold weather when supplies were limited due to downed power lines and closed roads, which caused wholesale energy prices to soar. 

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which manages power for 90% of the state, was not prepared for the cold snap and the surge in demand for power as people tried to heat their homes.

On Sunday, Mayor Turner said, “All of what happened this past week was foreseeable and preventable. Our system in Texas is designed for summer heat and not necessarily a winter event.”

He also said, “Climate change is real and these major storms can happen at any time. These systems need to be weatherized…we need to open up the Texas grid.”

Following an emergency meeting with state lawmakers Saturday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott barred utility companies from billing customers or turning off power for non-payment. The moratorium, Abbott said, will give the state time to figure out a way to protect consumers. 

77 of the 254 counties in Texas were declared a major disaster area Sunday by President Joe Biden, which will enable the state to receive aid through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

After more than 3 million people in Texas lost power last week, ERCOT said power has been restored to millions of customers. As of Monday afternoon, about 15,000 customers remained in the dark still, according to PowerOutage.us

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