Will Your Electric Bill Be Enormous After the Winter Freeze?
The cold snap is over in Texas, but the recovery is just beginning.
The Southwest Power Pool and Xcel Energy moved to normal operating status at 10 p.m. on Saturday, February 20th, 2021, signaling an end to the winter weather crisis for many in the South Plains and Eastern New Mexico service area.
President of Xcel Energy David Hudson said in a press release despite their struggles, they only had to initiate two brief controlled outages the mornings of February 15th and 16th. During those outages, some customers lost power for up to an hour and a half.
Lubbock Power and Light (LP&L) also initiated several controlled outages that briefly knocked out power for hundreds of homes and businesses, mostly in the western half of Lubbock.
For others in Texas, power outages were much worse and lasted way longer. The Texas Tribune reports that on February 16th, one of the worst days of the storm, more than 4.5 million people had lost power. More than 85 percent of customers in Llano County and more than 92 percent lost power in Brazoria County near the border. Even Dallas and Tarrant County lost power for 29 percent and 41 percent of their energy customers.
It’s still unclear how many have died from lack of heat caused by the outages, but more deaths are reported every day. Those who did survive the storm are still struggling with half-empty grocery stores and a lack of clean, fresh water. Now, a new threat emerges: unbelievably high energy bills.
On February 20th, the New York Times reported that a 63-year-old man from a Dallas suburb had to pay a $16,752 electric bill. Another woman in Nevada, Texas, told the outlet that she's facing a $6,200 charge. Stories like these are worrying other Texans who might be unable to afford their next electric bill.
However, Governor Abbott says a legislative process is already underway to prevent Texans from having to pay through the nose for a crisis that wasn’t their fault.
In a press conference Saturday, Gov. Abbott said the Texas Public Utility Commission had already met in a special meeting to issue a moratorium on service providers disconnecting electricity services due to nonpayment, and that they are working to restrict providers on trying to collect on electric bills.