Story at a glance
- An unexpected winter storm took down the Texas power grid, leaving many without power in freezing temperatures.
- Low-income families were especially endangered by the loss of power, particularly nonwhite households, which have already been disproportionately affected by the pandemic.
- Now, the state and utility companies are looking at ways to pay off the costs — including by passing them off on customers.
After days of freezing temperatures with no power, the lights are back on in Texas. Now, there are bills to pay.
The state's energy grid didn't come back all at once and the high demand sent costs from 12 cents to $9 per kilowatt-hour, reported The Associated Press (AP), which added up quickly. Gov. Greg Abbott (R) and Texas lawmakers are promising relief, and electric companies aren't turning off power to those who aren't able to cover their bills, reports the Texas Tribune, at least for now.
But someone will have to pay what BloombergNEF estimates is $50.6 billion in costs from the beginning of the Blackouts until Friday morning. CPS Energy, which serves San Antonio, is among those withholding storm charges for now, saying online that they are trying to spread the costs over 10 years or longer. Either way, however, the customers will likely foot the bill.
Q - Is CPSE going to provide payment relief to customers?— CPS Energy (@cpsenergy) February 19, 2021
A: We understand that it would be unacceptable to have customers bear the costs on their monthly bill, so we are working diligently to find ways to spread those costs to 10 years or longer to make it more affordable.
Since then, the nation’s largest municipally owned gas and electric utility has said they are pursuing "all kinds of relief," including local, state and federal resources. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which runs the power grid, is also likely to bear some of the costs, although it's not quite sure how much yet. Already, a family who lost their 11-year-old child during the power failure is suing the state's utility companies for $100 million.
The blackouts hit low-income families, particularly nonwhite households, harder than others amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
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