Texas Woman Sues Over Astronomical Electric Bill

But the state's variable-rate pricing model may make it a difficult battle to win
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 25, 2021 1:41 AM CST
Texas Woman Sues Over $9,546 Electricity Bill
This Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2021 file photo shows power lines in Houston.   (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File)

One of the Texans who received a terrifyingly high power bill in the wake of last week's devastating storm is suing, and consumer law experts say more lawsuits are likely to follow. But, as ABC News reports, it could be an uphill battle for those taking the state's power providers to court, thanks to the combination of Texas' deregulated electricity market and variable-rate pricing. Most Texans are on fixed-rate plans, but those who are on the variable-rate plans, a relatively recent feature, pay wholesale prices—so when demand is low, so is their bill. When demand is high, on the other hand, well ... Houston resident Lisa Khoury, the one who is suing, was hit with a bill for $9,546.

That's despite the fact that, Khoury claims, power at her house was still intermittent, and she was doing what she could to conserve electricity given the widespread power outages across the state. The class-action suit accuses Griddy Energy of price gouging, but the company says the lawsuit is "meritless." It blames the state's Public Utility Commission, which, per the Texas Tribune, raised the wholesale market price 7,400% over the average as demand rose. Griddy explains more about that move in a blog post, and says it will fight to understand how it was allowed to happen. It also says in a statement that it is "seeking relief" for impacted customers. (Read more Texas stories.)

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