DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Texas Governor Greg Abbott as well as lawmakers have promised to help the tens of thousands of Texans hit with high electric bills, but they haven’t said how or who will end up paying for it.
“It is outrageous for residents to be saddled with skyrocketing power bills,” Gov. Abbott said during a televised address on Wednesday, Feb. 24. “The state is already investigating multiple electric providers about these spikes.”READ MORE: North Texas Seeing Plenty Of COVID-19 Vaccine Supply With No Wait Lists
Last week, when the temperatures dropped and power plants froze across the state, the wholesale price of electricity skyrocketed.
For tens of thousands of Texans who are on electric plans based on a real time prices, like Griddy, they were slammed with high bills.
“It just blows my mind. I really did think it was a mistake,” said Ty Williams of Arlington, who had a more than $11,000 home electricity bill for the first half of February. “That could buy someone a car or pay for your child’s tuition for a year.”
Abbott has banned electric companies from shutting off power for unpaid bills but has not released a detailed plan on how the bills will eventually be paid.
Lawmakers say federal emergency funds meant to help pay for broken pipes and damage could be used to help residents pay these high energy bills.
The state could also start a relief fund to help those hit with the extreme bills.READ MORE: 'Nobody Should Get Away With Murder': Family Continues Search For Answers After Father Killed In Suspected Road Rage Shooting In Dallas
This week, the Public Utility Commission launched an investigation into retail electric providers who offer indexed plans. Customer rates on indexed plans are based on wholesale electricity prices. Indexed plans are allowable under state law.
Former Public Utility Commissioner Ken Anderson said while there are ways the state can help, he added Texas needs to be careful about simply forgiving bills.
In a deregulated electricity market, Texas touts how customers the can pick from hundreds of plans, including more risky plans like Griddy.
Anderson said it raises a philosophical, and perhaps moral, question as to whether tax dollars should be used to pay these bills.
“The problem with saying ‘okay guys you don’t have to pay’ is then you are spreading that cost among all customers in ERCOT,” he said. “Do you penalize those who looked at his or her circumstances and decided to pay more for that insurance of being on a fixed rate plan.”
On Tuesday, Griddy began talks with ERCOT and the Public Utility Commission about options for customer relief.MORE NEWS: Stimulus Check Latest: Is A Fourth Relief Payment Coming?
Griddy also posted on its website that it’s offering a deferred payment plan up to five months.