Gov. Greg Abbott disagreed with high prices for electric service after thousands of homes went dark

SERVICES. the Texas Electrical Reliability Council underestimated the amount of power it would need. | Photo: Efe.

They kept the lights off, limited the use of electronic devices and barely watched television, except for late-night news about the winter storms that hit their area.

Like many other Texans, David Astrein and his wife, who live in Houston, did what they could to save energy last week, even when they were both working from home with a five-month-old son.

Astrein, 36, said he was surprised when he went online to see his electricity bill from his supplier, Griddy, of $ 2,796.85; corresponding to the period from February 1.

Before the storms, the Texas Electrical Reliability Council, which manages about 90% of the state’s electrical load, underestimated the amount of power it would need.

Because Texas is the only state to operate an independent electrical grid, there was no capacity for an emergency. Supply was insufficient for demand, prompting the Texas Public Utilities Commission, which regulates Texas utility rates, to raise energy prices in an emergency meeting Monday.

On the same day, the wholesale price of electricity soared more than 10,000%, leaving many residents with skyrocketing bills in the wake of the storms, ranging from four digits to one for more than $ 17,000.

The state’s unregulated market allows customers to choose their utility providers, with some offering plans that allow users to pay wholesale amounts for energy.

“Everybody in Texas is in favor of deregulation, and Griddy, as a wholesale electricity supplier, is the most deregulated you can get,” said Nicholas Milazzo, who faces a $ 3,000 bill. “And this just goes to show why regulation is important because, of course, in the short term it’s great, but then situations like this come up where it just gets out of control.”

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People with exorbitant bills have demanded solutions. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced that he is launching an investigation into power outages, including high prices.

On Saturday, Gov. Greg Abbott called an emergency meeting with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Texas House Speaker Dade Phelan, and other lawmakers to discuss what they could do to address the price hike.

“It is unacceptable that Texans who suffered for days in freezing cold without electricity or heat are now being hit by skyrocketing energy costs,” Abbott said in a statement.

In a contact with CNN, Michael McCaul, Republican Representative for Texas, offered hope that the cost to the people would be alleviated with federal assistance provided by the emergency disaster declaration of President Joe Biden and the Federal Agency for the Management of Emergencies

For Meryl Kornfield y Paulina Firozi/The Washington Post.

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