Houston Mayor Says Texas Should Pay Some Consumers’ Huge Utility Bills

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Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said Sunday that the state of Texas should pay the huge utility bills faced by some Texas consumers after last week’s historic winter storm that left power without power and skyrocketing prices for energy. “People who get these exorbitant electric bills and have to pay to repair their houses shouldn’t have to take responsibility,” Turner said during an interview on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “Those exorbitant costs should be borne by the state of Texas and not by the individual customers who did not cause this catastrophe this week.”

Some customers in the liberalized energy market in Texas were surprised to see that they had been charged thousands, even tens of thousands, of dollars for energy use in the past week. One man was charged $ 16,752 on his electric bill, the New York Times reported, roughly 70 times the amount of his regular bill. Utilities were able to charge more due to massive demand during cold weather, as supplies were severely limited due to closed roads and downed power lines, sending wholesale energy prices skyrocketing. Last week, CFO Roland Burns of Texas natural gas company Comstock Resources Inc. CRK, + 3.50% drew ire during an earnings call, saying “This week is like hitting the jackpot with some of these incredible prices.” . The mayor of Houston is not the only politician who says that consumers should not be affected by huge bills. “This is WRONG,” Sen. Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, tweeted Sunday. “No power company should be making a windfall from a natural disaster, and Texans shouldn’t be hit by ridiculous rate increases from last week’s energy debacle. State and local regulators must act quickly to prevent this injustice. “Previously, Cruz had been a strong advocate for the Texas energy system. Texas Governor Greg Abbot on Sunday banned utilities from billing customers. or cutting power for nonpayment following an emergency meeting with state lawmakers, the Texas Tribune reported. “Texans who have experienced very cold days without power should not be subject to skyrocketing energy bills,” Abbott said. Sunday in San Antonio, adding that the billing moratorium will give the state time to find a way to protect consumers. President Joe Biden declared Texas a major disaster area Saturday, turning on a tap of federal funds. Biden may visit Texas later this week. While the cold snap has set in, Houston peaked at 69 Sunday Some areas of Texas were still without power, and water shortages persisted across the state after ice ruptured mains. At least 76 deaths in various states have been attributed to the winter storm.