Feb 21, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Texas officials launch inquiry into winter storm energy bills spike

A neighborhood in Waco, Texas as severe winter weather conditions over the last few days has forced road closures and power outages over the state on February 17

A neighborhood in Waco, Texas, amid power outages over the state on Feb. 17. Photo by Matthew Busch /AFP via Getty Images

Officials in Texas announced Saturday investigations into the causes of the state's widespread power outages and an energy bills spike following the state's winter storms.

Why it matters: Millions of Texans lost power and water during last week's storms. In the aftermath, wholesale power prices rose from roughly $50 per megawatt hour to $9,000, WFAA reports — noting some Texans faced bills of up to $17,000 so far this month.

What's happening: Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said in a statement after holding an emergency meeting with the state's Republican and Democratic legislative members it's "unacceptable for Texans who suffered through days in the freezing cold without electricity or heat to now be hit with skyrocketing energy costs."

  • The Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT), the state's utility regulator, announced Saturday that it has opened an investigation "into the factors that combined with the devastating winter weather to disrupt the flow of power to millions of Texas homes."
"The Commission also unanimously approved a series of steps designed to protect retail electric customers feeling the financial effects of the ERCOT grid event."
— PUCT statement

Of note: Abbott has called the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) "kind of opaque, the way it’s run.

What to watch: Abbott said in his statement that he's working with lawmakers and the state's lieutenant governor "to develop solutions to ensure that Texans are not on the hook for unreasonable spikes in their energy bills."

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