Why are Texans getting $17,000 Electricity Bills?


Albertine Combs

Texans are rushing to local grocery stores to get supply and to prepare for further snow storms.

Albertine Combs, Junior Editor

Sunny Texas’s recent snow blizzards have been making front-page news. The Southern state has been experiencing temperatures dropping down and long power outages statewide. 

“The recent storm was very unexpected and it affected a lot of people in my area including myself. I was unable to go to work because our cars are not built for the snow and it was difficult to drive on the snow and black ice,” explains student Amy Speyer (23’) living in Frisco, Texas.

Many Texans are grateful for any access to electricity but are being charged up to $17,000.

“My friend’s experienced power outages and some people’s pipes even froze and eventually burst because of it. I had a friend who had to brush her teeth with water from a water bottle and another whose roof fell apart because of her water pipes bursting,” explains Speyer.

They’re getting these atrocious electricity bills for one main reason: the wholesale power market. The two main providers of electricity in Texas are retail power companies and local electricity providers. 

Companies like the Electricity Reliability Council of Texas, also known as ERCOT, compete with these local electricity providers. In fact, 85% of Texans live in an area with a retail competition.

Some homeowners choose retail providers rather than local electricity utilities if the retail price seems to be a cheaper deal without knowing what they are truly signing up for. 

Those who choose to receive their electricity from retailers are charged market price, meaning if the demand for electricity goes up, so does the price. However, price spikes rarely happen until now. 

Over 2021’s Valentine’s day weekend, ERCOT prices spiked all the way up to $9,000 per megawatt-hour, which is the maximum price allowable by Public Utility Commissions of Texas

“It’s bad enough that people’s houses are damaged and belongings are damaged; they do not need the stress of figuring out how to pay for their expensive electricity bills,” said Speyer. 

Texans are now turning to government officials for relief.

“We need to get it together and we need to re-elect a new governor. The way that everything was dealt with is infuriating. All of this, mainly because of our privatized power grid,” said Speyer.