The Texas Tribune
Five board members of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, the entity that manages and operates the electricity grid that covers much of the state, will resign on Wednesday, according to a notice to the Public Utility Commission. The five board members came under fire last week when it was reported that they do not reside in the state.
The board has been criticized for its handling of last week’s mass power outage during a winter storm that has claimed the lives of dozens of Texans. More than 4.5 million customers were without power at one point last week.
Electricity bills spark lawsuits: A Chambers County resident filed a class-action lawsuit against electricity retailer Griddy on Monday, accusing the provider of price gouging customers during last week’s freeze. She is seeking $1 billion in relief for affected customers after her bill spiked to $9,340 the week of the storm, compared to her average monthly bills that range from $200 to $250.
While electricity bills are likely to rise across the board, Texans on variable rate plans — as opposed to fixed-rate electricity plans which offer a consistent rate regardless of market conditions — face immediate and alarmingly high prices. That’s because the Public Utility Commission of Texas raised wholesale market electricity prices to $9 per kilo-watt hour, a 7,400% increase from the 12-cent average, in response to rising demand. Griddy responded to concerns of price gouging by placing blame on the PUC and said it did not profit from raised prices.
Gov. Greg Abbott has said scaling back the bills will be a top priority, and the state’s utility commission on Sunday took action to temporarily prevent electric companies from cutting power to customers who don’t pay and from sending out bills and cost estimates.
Speaking of the governor, Abbott will deliver a televised statewide address at 6:02 p.m. Central today to discuss the state’s ongoing recovery response to the winter storm. Watch it here.