(TBEN/TBEN) – DeAndre Upshaw, a resident of Dallas, said it was “very shocking” when he opened his latest electric bill.
“As I try to fill up with gas and groceries and make sure my pipes don’t explode, the last thing I think about is a $ 7,000 bill from my utility company. Upshaw told TBEN’s Fredricka Whitfield via Skype on Saturday.
READ MORE: Texas Governor Abbott meets with lawmaker to address rising energy bills
As Texas struggles to recover from a deep freeze that killed dozens of people, some Texas customers like Upshaw face unprecedented price hikes in their energy bills due to the recent snowstorm . Texas officials say they are investigating.
Texas utilities regulator, the Texas Utilities Commission (PUCT), said on Saturday it was investigating “the factors that, combined with devastating winter conditions, are disrupting the flow of electricity to millions of homes across the country. Texas”.
It also gives customers a way to call in an emergency supplier in the event that their current supplier is not available, but this program is likely not to apply to people who have voluntarily changed companies. ‘electricity.
TBEN reached out to PUCT for clarification, but did not immediately respond.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott held an emergency meeting with lawmakers on Saturday to address billing spikes.
“We have a responsibility to protect Texans from spikes in their energy bills that are the result of harsh winter weather and power outages,” Abbott said. “Today’s meeting has been productive and I commend the Republican and Democratic Members of the Legislative Assembly for putting aside partisan politics to work together on this challenge. We are moving quickly to alleviate this issue and will continue to work collaboratively throughout this week on solutions to help Texas families and ensure they don’t end up with skyrocketing energy bills.
Although no official action has been taken, Texas officials have discussed plans to resolve the billing issues. According to the governor, they talked about the need to calculate the total cost of energy bills and find a way to reduce the burden.
An energy company called Griddy suggested its customers look for another supplier if the prices were too high.
Upshaw told TBEN it had tried to switch from Griddy to another electricity provider, but the new company continued to push back its start date.
Griddy bills its customers at a market rate that varies with current electricity prices. Its website states that customers “pay exactly the price at which we buy electricity.” But with the winter storm ravaging the Texas power grid, Griddy’s prices have skyrocketed.
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In Texas, customers can choose to pay for a fixed plan instead, and Griddy began encouraging them to do so, in a statement Monday.
“While we value our members, we want the best for their wallets and families even more, even if it means helping them look to our competition,” the company said.
On Thursday, Griddy said he was seeking relief from Texas utility regulators and had “committed to crediting customers for any relief dollar for dollar.”
For now, Upshaw, the Dallas resident, has changed his credit card registered with Griddy to one that has been maximized to ensure he cannot be billed any more. Yet even though he retained power, his bill continued to rise, he said.
Neighbors and friends who have accounts with Griddy told Upshaw the charges “have knocked out their entire checking account, gone into their savings account, they can’t pay their rent,” he said. .
“We have friends who have been without power for 48 hours who came (to my house), and I said, I mean we are paying for this electricity, so much to make other people use it”, Upshaw said, adding that he is grateful to be alive and well.
In a statement on Friday, the Texas Railways Commission said it was working to keep natural gas in the state to “avoid situations where customers could have unusually high bills within weeks. to come up”.
The state agency says it is working with “power producers, pipeline operators and electric regulators to provide the support they need for natural gas deliveries.”
Although established as a regulator of the railways, the commission has regulated the oil and gas industry in the state for almost 100 years, according to the group’s website.
“The Texans have gone through enough hardship during this winter storm without having to worry about unexpected additional energy costs,” Commissioner Wayne Christian said in the statement. “Our agency will do everything in our power to ensure that utilities have enough time to make up for these unforeseen expenses, so that consumers are not unduly burdened.”
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