Surprise Electric Bill? An Attorney Offers Tips For Texans Who Need Relief.

Some electricity customers who signed up for variable rate plans as a way to save money now face staggering bills in the wake of last week’s winter storm.

By Michael Marks & Shelly BrisbinFebruary 23, 2021 1:21 pm,

Just as they’re beginning to recover from last week’s winter storm, some Texans have already been surprised by unusually high electric bills. Those affected get their electricity from providers who charge rates that vary based on the energy market. In normal times, rates are low this time of year. But with prices on the wholesale level massively higher last week due to increased demand, residential customers with variable rates were hit hard.

Keegan Warren Clem is a managing attorney for the Texas Legal Services Center, a nonprofit legal advice and advocacy group. She is also adjunct professor at the University of Texas Law School and McCombs School of Business. She told Texas Standard it’s unclear how many Texans could face five-figure electric bills. One provider, Griddy, who charges for power on a variable basis, has 30,000 customers, she says.

Warren Clem says that customers who receive exorbitant electric bills should begin by asking their provider what assistance may be available to reduce the cost.

“It’s not clear that there’s an existing mechanism for the [Public Utility Commission] to provide financial relief,” she said.

But state leaders have met to discuss possible relief for utility customers.

What you’ll hear in this segment:

– What legal protections exist for customers who refuse to pay a high bill

– Why some customers may be on the hook for high bills

– What documentation customers should gather when seeking relief

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