The mayor of Houston, a city in the state of Texas, has called on the state government to pay the high electricity bills that arrive at the homes of its residents – one of the consequences of the severe cold that has hit the southern United States last week. , leaving at least 70 dead and thermometers at -18 ° C.
Sylvester Turner argued in an interview with CBS News that it is not residents’ fault that the electricity distribution system has failed to meet the high demand.
Millions of people have been without power in Texas after snowstorms hit the state. However, some of those whose supply was maintained faced electricity bills reaching five figures.
For example, Dallas resident and Army veteran Scott Willoughby told The New York Times that he had to pay a bill of $ 16,000 for a few days of use, which saved your savings.
Susan Hosford, a resident of the Texas town of Denison, told the Associated Press news agency she was billed $ 1,300 for the first two weeks of February alone. As the amount was automatically debited from her account and she did not have sufficient funds, she had to pay interest.
Many other people who have complained on social media about their high electricity bills are customers of operator Griddy, which serves only Texas.
The company offers one of the state’s most popular plans in the wholesale model. With the worsening weather conditions, he even alerted customers to the increase in prices, but little could be done in time.
Texas is one of the few states in the United States that has an independent power system, making it difficult to strengthen neighboring states in times of crisis. Thus, during an emergency meeting held on the 16th, a state committee in charge of infrastructure decided to increase the price of energy.
The change did not affect customers who signed up for fixed rate plans. Those who have moved to variable fares – usually cheaper in the short term, when weather conditions are stable – have been hit hard by the increase.
The Texas Electric Reliability Council, which oversees the state’s power supply, is accused of failing to prepare for shortage scenarios like today.
Currently, power has been restored in much of Texas, but just over 15,000 customers were still without power at lunchtime Monday (22), according to the Poweroutage.us website.
After the scares of the past few weeks, the weather in Texas is milder and more typical for this time of year.
Who pays the bill?
Mayor Turner told CBS that when he was state legislator he introduced a bill to ensure there was a “sufficient reserve” of power to prevent blackouts – however, he says his political colleagues have not adhered to the agenda.
Sylvester Turner argues the system is falling short of the challenges posed by climate change.
“It was all predictable. I wrote about it in 2011. And, therefore, for these exorbitant costs, it is not the consumers who should bear these costs.”
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said after meeting with lawmakers that “we have a responsibility to protect Texans from spikes in their energy bills due to harsh winters and blackouts.”
President Joe Biden declared a calamity in Texas last week, paving the way for the use of federal funds for relief spending.