Texas: Calls for State to Pay Soaring Electric Bills, Family Files $100M Suit

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Amid the Texas weather disaster, some are demanding the state pay the soaring electric bills of up to $16,000 for just a few days’ usage, while one family has filed a $100 million wrongful death lawsuit against the state.

What’s behind the skyrocketing electric bills in Texas?

Texas power companies are coming under scrutiny for sky-high charges in the aftermath of power outage following last week’s state-wide freeze.

Power companies in the state of Texas are under major scrutiny for the rolling blackouts enacted by the utility providers, as well as cases where some customers are receiving sky-high bills for their power usage, the BBC reported.

Dallas resident Scott Willoughby said he faced a $16,000 bill which had obliterated his savings, the US Army veteran told the New York Times.

In the aftermath of last week’s unusual frigid temperatures as a result of the polar vortex, customers who had previously selected to pay wholesale prices for their power are receiving shockingly high electric bills.

Typically, paying wholesale prices for electricity can be much cheaper than paying fixed rates during good weather. However, when there’s a high demand for electricity, such as during last week’s cold snap, prices can skyrocket, WSAZ West Virginia reported.

For example, some customers in Texas pay less than $2.50 a day for power on a typical February day. But last week, the one-day price for wholesale electricity spike to hundreds of dollars after the storm. One customer was charged $1346.17 for the first two weeks of February. Making things worse, some customers are on auto-draft, which automatically takes money out of checking accounts. The astronomical electric bills emptied some customer’s bank accounts, who then got the double insult of overdraft fees from the bank, as well as no money to cover other auto-pay bills.

Houston Mayor says Texas should pay astronomical electric bills

The mayor of Houston, Sylvester Turner, says it is not the fault of Texas residents that the electrical system could not cope with the unusual, frigid weather conditions brought by the polar vortex last week, the BBC reported. During an interview with CBS News, the mayor says the state of Texas should pay the huge electricity bills that residents are now finding themselves saddled with.

Other residents faced astronomical electrical bills of up to $16,000 for just a few days of usage, the BBC reported.

Family files $100 million lawsuit against power companies

A Texas family, of an 11-year-old boy who died of a suspected hypothermia, has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against power company Entergy and state grid operator Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) for more than $100 million, after their Texas home suffered power loss during the frigid cold last week, Fox reported.

Cristian Pineda was found unresponsive by his mother in their mobile home last week amid freezing temperatures, the BBC reported. Official autopsy results on the 11-year-old boy may take weeks, according to police.

The lawsuit accuses utility firms of negligence and putting “profits over the welfare of people” by failing to prepare properly.

“Despite having knowledge of the dire weather forecast for at least a week in advance, and the knowledge that the system was not prepared for more than a decade, Ercot and Entergy failed to take any pre-emptory action that could have averted the crisis and were wholly unprepared to deal with the crisis at hand,” ABC News reported, quoting language contained in the lawsuit.

In the aftermath of the Texas weather crisis, personal injuries lawyers have been in high demand. The story of the boy’s death is one of dozens of tragedies being blamed on the cold weather in Texas. The attorney representing the Pineda family, said he currently represents seven families who have lost loved ones, according to the report by the BBC.