Elderly vet gets $16,752 power bill after Texas storm - another win for deregulation!

Discussion in 'Higher Learning' started by Rhakim, Feb 21, 2021.

  1. Rhakim

    Rhakim Veteran Poster of the Year Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2015
    Messages:
    27,183
    Daps Received:
    108,354
    Reppin:
    Inglewood
    Reputation:
    11,140
    Coli Cash:
    $154336.00

    Really nothing to add to this story.


    His Lights Stayed on During Texas' Storm. Now He Owes $16,752.

    SAN ANTONIO — As millions of Texans shivered in dark, cold homes over the past week while a winter storm devastated the state’s power grid and froze natural gas production, those who could still summon lights with the flick of a switch felt lucky.

    Now, many of them are paying a severe price for it.

    “My savings is gone,” said Scott Willoughby, a 63-year-old Army veteran who lives on Social Security payments in a Dallas suburb. He said he had nearly emptied his savings account so that he would be able to pay the $16,752 electric bill charged to his credit card — 70 times what he usually pays for all of his utilities combined. “There’s nothing I can do about it, but it’s broken me.”

    Willoughby is among scores of Texans who have reported skyrocketing electric bills as the price of keeping lights on and refrigerators humming shot upward. For customers whose electricity prices are not fixed and are instead tied to the fluctuating wholesale price, the spikes have been astronomical.

    The outcry elicited angry calls for action from lawmakers from both parties and prompted Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, to hold an emergency meeting with legislators Saturday to discuss the enormous bills.

    “We have a responsibility to protect Texans from spikes in their energy bills that are a result of the severe winter weather and power outages,” Abbott, who has been reeling after the state’s infrastructure failure, said in a statement after the meeting. He added that Democrats and Republicans would work together to make sure people “do not get stuck with skyrocketing energy bills.”

    The electric bills are coming due at the end of a week in which Texans have faced a combination of crises caused by the frigid weather, beginning on Monday, when power grid failures and surging demand led to millions being left without electricity.

    Natural gas producers were not prepared for the freeze either, and many people’s homes were cut off from heat. Now, millions of people are discovering that they have no safe water because of burst pipes, frozen wells or water treatment plants that have been knocked offline. Power has returned in recent days for all but about 60,000 Texans as the storm moved east, where it has also caused power outages in Mississippi, Louisiana, West Virginia and Ohio.

    The steep electric bills in Texas are in part a result of the state’s uniquely unregulated energy market, which allows customers to pick their electricity providers among about 220 retailers in an entirely market-driven system.

    Under some of the plans, when demand increases, prices rise. The goal, architects of the system say, is to balance the market by encouraging consumers to reduce their usage and power suppliers to create more electricity.

    But when last week’s crisis hit and power systems faltered, the state’s Public Utilities Commission ordered that the price cap be raised to its maximum limit of $9 per kilowatt-hour, easily pushing many customers’ daily electric costs above $100. And in some cases, like Willoughby’s, bills rose by more than 50 times the normal cost.

    Many of the people who have reported extremely high charges, including Willoughby, are customers of Griddy, a small company in Houston that provides electricity at wholesale prices, which can quickly change based on supply and demand.

    The company passes the wholesale price directly to customers, charging an additional $9.99 monthly fee. Much of the time, the rate is considered affordable. But the model can be risky: Last week, foreseeing a huge jump in wholesale prices, the company encouraged all of its customers — about 29,000 people — to switch to another provider when the storm arrived. But many were unable to do so.

    Katrina Tanner, a Griddy customer who lives in Nevada, Texas, said she had been charged $6,200 already this month, more than five times what she paid in all of 2020. She began using Griddy at a friend’s suggestion a couple of years ago and was pleased at the time with how simple it was to sign up.

    As the storm rolled through during the past week, however, she kept opening the company’s app on her phone and seeing her bill “just rising, rising, rising,” Tanner said. Griddy was able to take the money she owed directly from her bank account, and she now has just $200 left. She suspects that she was only able to keep that much because her bank stopped Griddy from taking more.

    Some lawmakers and consumer advocates said the price spikes had made it clear that customers did not understand the complicated terms of the company’s model.

    “To the Texas Utilities Commission: What are you thinking, allowing the average type of household to sign up for this kind of program?” Tyson Slocum, director of the energy program at Public Citizen, a consumer advocacy group, said of Griddy. “The risk-reward is so out of whack that it never should have been permitted in the first place.”

    Phil King, a Republican state lawmaker who represents an area west of Fort Worth, said some of his constituents who were on variable-rate contracts were complaining about bills in the thousands.

    “When something like this happens, you’re in real trouble” with such contracts, King said. “There have got to be some emergency financial waivers and other actions taken until we can work through this and get to the bottom of it.”

    Responding to its outraged customers, Griddy, too, appeared to try to shift anger to the Public Utilities Commission in a statement.

    “We intend to fight this for, and alongside, our customers for equity and accountability — to reveal why such price increases were allowed to happen as millions of Texans went without power,” the statement said.

    William W. Hogan, considered the architect of the Texas energy market design, said in an interview this past week that the high prices reflected the market performing as it was designed.

    The rapid losses of power — more than a third of the state’s available electricity production was offline at one point — increased the risk that the entire system would collapse, causing prices to rise, said Hogan, a professor of global energy policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School.

    “As you get closer and closer to the bare minimum, these prices get higher and higher, which is what you want,” Hogan said.

    Robert McCullough, an energy consultant in Portland, Oregon, and a critic of Hogan’s, said that allowing the market to drive energy policy with few protections for consumers was “idiotic” and that similar actions had devastated retailers and consumers following the California energy crisis of 2000 and 2001.

    “The similar situation caused a wave of bankruptcies as retailers and customers discovered that they were on the hook for bills 30 times their normal levels,” McCullough said. “We are going to see this again.”

    DeAndré Upshaw said his power had been on and off in his Dallas apartment throughout the storm. A lot of his neighbors had it worse, so he felt fortunate to have electricity and heat, inviting some neighbors over to warm up.

    Then Upshaw, 33, saw that his utility bill from Griddy had risen to more than $6,700. He usually pays about $80 a month this time of year.

    He had been trying to conserve power as the storm raged on, but it didn’t seem to matter. He also signed up to switch to another utility company, but he is still being charged until the change goes into effect Monday.

    “It’s a utility — it’s something that you need to live,” Upshaw said. “I don’t feel like I’ve used $6,700 of electricity in the last decade. That’s not a cost that any reasonable person would have to pay for five days of intermittent electric service being used at the bare minimum.”

    As Texas slowly thaws out, Tanner is allowing herself a small luxury after days of keeping the thermostat at 60 degrees.

    “I finally decided the other day, if we were going to pay these high prices, we weren’t going to freeze,” she said. “So I cranked it up to 65.”
     
  2. the cac mamba

    the cac mamba Veteran

    Joined:
    May 21, 2012
    Messages:
    85,461
    Daps Received:
    249,615
    Reppin:
    NULL
    Reputation:
    12,940
    Coli Cash:
    $348774.00

    :dead: how much were these dikkheads actually saving by signing up for this special wholesale price?
     
    King Sun, BillyTheWho, wire28 and 4 others dapped this.
  3. DEAD7

    DEAD7 Veteran Hall of Fame Supporter

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2012
    Messages:
    45,535
    Daps Received:
    78,977
    Reppin:
    Fresno, CA.
    Reputation:
    3,720
    Coli Cash:
    $209697.90

    Texas Governor Greg Abbott has called for action to ensure Texans "do not get stuck with skyrocketing energy bills".

    "We have a responsibility to protect Texans from spikes in their energy bills that are a result of the severe winter weather and power outages," he said after meeting lawmakers.


    I can’t imagine any of them having to pay those bills.
     
    ogc163 dapped this.
  4. Kenny West

    Kenny West Veteran

    Joined:
    May 29, 2012
    Messages:
    21,176
    Daps Received:
    75,948
    Reppin:
    NULL
    Reputation:
    4,450
    Coli Cash:
    $330397.00

    At the cost of gubment intervention tho:patrice:

    So now you're on board:mjgrin:
     
  5. Uncle Phil 36

    Uncle Phil 36 All Star

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2014
    Messages:
    4,928
    Daps Received:
    11,160
    Reputation:
    680
    Coli Cash:
    $300015.00

    Should’ve known the risks when you signed up. Don’t think they should be bailed out
     
  6. Rhakim

    Rhakim Veteran Poster of the Year Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2015
    Messages:
    27,183
    Daps Received:
    108,354
    Reppin:
    Inglewood
    Reputation:
    11,140
    Coli Cash:
    $154336.00

    How would you know the risks? How the fukk is every single American supposed to understand every single line of the pages and pages of lawyer-produced fine print on their mortgages, health insurance plans, energy bills, work contracts, etc. if elite lawyers and actuaries are producing them and there's insufficient regulation regarding how they are written and what they do and do not have to disclose?

    I mean, do you think there was a single line on that bill that said that energy bills could hit $2,000/day on a "bad day"? How would some random 63-year-old vet even go about figuring that out?

    This is a country where paperwork gets so fukking complex that mortgage companies themselves didn't even know who owned the mortgages. They create a massive power imbalance by having entire teams of lawyers and actuaries producing shyt that's impossible for many people to understand, and then insisting that if you don't understand it you have to pay.

    Have you ever read The Case for Reparations? This exact technique was used by powerful White folk to fukk over Black folk over and over and over again. You cool with that too?
     
  7. Rhakim

    Rhakim Veteran Poster of the Year Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2015
    Messages:
    27,183
    Daps Received:
    108,354
    Reppin:
    Inglewood
    Reputation:
    11,140
    Coli Cash:
    $154336.00

    So where do you draw the line?

    And if you can draw a line after the fact....then why not have that line already drawn in pre-existing regulation, rather than fukking people over and then making up for it weeks or months after the fact? Wouldn't this just throw the entire industry for a loop because no one knows what the real rules are or what the government will or will not "make up" later?

    What if the company that did it only worked in predominantly Black communities? And what if it was a state like Mississippi or Arkansas, and when they saw what happened they replied like @Uncle Phil 36 and decided not to help the people out after all. You still think it's gravy?
     
  8. Peter Parker

    Peter Parker Superstar

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2013
    Messages:
    6,073
    Daps Received:
    20,957
    Reputation:
    860
    Coli Cash:
    $345000.00

    At 73 years old you're gonna have to come take that money from me :yeshrug: No way i'd pay that considering the amount of time I likely have left.
     
  9. ORDER_66

    ORDER_66 Messiah 2020 & Aetheon & K'nuba 2 release

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2014
    Messages:
    101,106
    Daps Received:
    419,565
    Reppin:
    Queens,NY
    Reputation:
    12,430
    Coli Cash:
    $239073.00

    This story was already in the texas weather thread...:beli:
     
  10. inndaskKy

    inndaskKy Superstar

    Joined:
    May 6, 2012
    Messages:
    5,556
    Daps Received:
    17,312
    Reppin:
    NULL
    Reputation:
    480
    Coli Cash:
    $217273.00

    This man already has paid the bill though.
     
  11. smitty22

    smitty22 Veteran Hall of Fame Supporter

    Joined:
    May 6, 2012
    Messages:
    49,968
    Daps Received:
    174,245
    Reputation:
    26,350
    Coli Cash:
    $2.52

    Guess everything really is bigger in Texas :damn:
     
  12. Joe Sixpack

    Joe Sixpack Build and Destroy Supporter

    Joined:
    May 11, 2012
    Messages:
    21,248
    Daps Received:
    56,993
    Reppin:
    Rotten Apple
    Reputation:
    2,670
    Coli Cash:
    $379334.00

    fukk him he’s probably a Republican piece a shyt :pacspit:
     
    Heelish and OfTheCross dapped this.
  13. ADevilYouKhow

    ADevilYouKhow Rhyme Reason

    Joined:
    May 11, 2012
    Messages:
    19,358
    Daps Received:
    42,479
    Reppin:
    got a call for three nines
    Reputation:
    1,120
    Coli Cash:
    $352136.00

  14. ogc163

    ogc163 Superstar

    Joined:
    May 25, 2012
    Messages:
    6,982
    Daps Received:
    17,860
    Reppin:
    Bronx, NYC
    Reputation:
    1,720
    Coli Cash:
    $203.84

    Exactly, the system probably has default setups that lead to this situation. This is an outlier, not evidence of something prevalent.
     
    DEAD7 dapped this.
  15. TAYLONDO SAMSWORTHY

    TAYLONDO SAMSWORTHY Veteran Supporter Verified

    Joined:
    May 18, 2012
    Messages:
    8,126
    Daps Received:
    63,458
    Reputation:
    25,860
    Coli Cash:
    $345000.00

    That nikka slow af for actually paying that
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2021
    Tr1pl3, KingZimbabwe, Wild self and 9 others dapped this.

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice