Some customers in Texas are facing outrageous hikes in their energy bill as a result of this week’s storm, causing one energy company to suggest that their customers find another provider with a fixed rate if prices were too extreme.
Customers in Texas have options in how they are billed for their electricity, according to the Public Utility Commission of Texas' (PUCT) website. If you go with a fixed plan, your price for electricity is fixed and doesn't fluctuate with the market. However, there are also market rate plans that are tied directly to the price utility companies pay for electricity.
Griddy, a power company in Texas, operates exclusively on the latter. Their website touts that customers "pay exactly the price we buy electricity at" and that their model "beats the [Texas] average 96% of the time."
When the winter storm wreaked havoc on Texas' power grid, power prices shot up and so did bills for customers on market rate plans.
Griddy urged "members switch to another provider with a fixed rate," according to a statement from the company.
"While we value our members, we want what is best for their wallet and family even more, even if that means helping them switch away to our competitors," the company added.
Now, PUCT is taking action. According to a statement released today, the utility regulator says they have "launched an investigation into the factors that combined with the devastating winter weather to disrupt the flow of power to millions of Texas homes."
Texas Gov. Greg Abbot also announced that he has convened an emergency meeting to look into the matter.
“It is unacceptable for Texans who suffered through days in the freezing cold without electricity or heat to now be hit with skyrocketing energy costs,” Abbott wrote in a statement. “To protect families, I am actively working with the Lieutenant Governor, the Speaker of the House and members of the Legislature to develop solutions to ensure that Texans are not on the hook for unreasonable spikes in their energy bills,” he added.
PUCT also took steps to make it easier for customers to go with a temporary "Provider of Last Resort" and lifted the typically higher rate associated with going with that option. However, according to PUCT's website, this program is designed for customers whose usual electric company is "unable to continue service" not customers voluntarily leaving their provider in an effort to save money, as Griddy suggested.
CNN has reached out to PUCT for clarification but did not immediately hear back.
For its part, Griddy is laying the blame for the situation squarely at PUCT.
"Here is what we do know: the market is supposed to set the prices, not political appointees," the company wrote in a Thursday statement about the high prices.
Griddy added that it was also seeking relief from the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT as it is commonly known, and the PUCT for its customers who were exposed to the high prices.
“Griddy is continuing these efforts and is committed to crediting customers for any relief, dollar-for-dollar,” according to a statement.
The company also said it also wants to "continue offering innovative products and services in the retail energy market in Texas."