Texans' 'skyrocketing' energy bills from winter storm aren't their responsibility, Gov. Abbott says

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Texas residents will not be burdened by "skyrocketing" energy bills following the deadly winter storm that caused widespread blackouts last week, Gov. Greg Abbott said.

Abbott announced on Sunday that he is addressing the "skyrocketing energy bills that resulted from a temporary spike in the energy market" with members of the legislature to make sure residents aren't held financially responsible.

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As the state reels under one of the worst electricity outages in U.S. history, Abbott and members of the legislature will calculate the total cost of these bills and "find ways that the state can help reduce this burden."

In the meantime, the Public Utility Commission, at the direction of the governor, will temporarily restrict providers from issuing invoices to customers. It also issued a temporary moratorium on customer disconnections for nonpayment.

Snow and ice blanketed Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

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According to the governor, the pause will give the state extra time to develop a solution on how to handle these bills.

“Texans who have suffered through days of freezing cold without power should not be subjected to skyrocketing energy bills,” Abbott told reporters Sunday.

Much of Texas’ power grid began to collapse last week as temperatures plunged and snow and ice hit the state, leaving tens of millions huddled in frigid homes that slowly grew colder.

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The plunging temperatures caused Texans to turn up their heaters, including many inefficient electric ones. Demand spiked to levels normally seen only on the hottest summer days when millions of air conditioners run at full tilt.

To ease the burden on power grids straining to meet extreme demand for heat and electricity, Texas, along with a slew of other impacted states, implemented rolling blackouts.

By Wednesday, 46,000 megawatts of power were offline statewide — 28,000 from natural gas, coal and nuclear plants and 18,000 from wind and solar, according to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which operates the state’s power grid.

The staggering imbalance between Texas’ energy supply and demand also caused prices to skyrocket from roughly $20 per megawatt-hour to $9,000 per megawatt-hour in the state’s freewheeling wholesale power market.

Abbott acknowledged every source of power had been compromised. But he accused ERCOT of misleading the public with messages that the grid was ready for the storm.

“It’s especially unacceptable when you realize what ERCOT told the state of Texas,” Abbott said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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