$600 for 2 days of power? Some Texans' bills skyrocket

Griddy told 29,000 customers, including a Houston woman who said she was charged $600 for 2 days of power, to switch.

Video Transcript

- The massive power outage is bringing up the issue of Texas deregulated electricity market, and you can choose your provider, but in some cases, that could cost you big. And I do mean really big. Brhe Berry has been digging for answers after one woman reached out. Brhe?

BRHE BERRY: Well, millions of Texans are still without power, some for days now. We know that. And then there are others like Savannah, who I spoke with, who has power. She said she's been doing all she can to conserve it, and for just about two days, she's looking at a bill over $600.

SAVANNAH THIGPEN: Before I went to bed Tuesday night, I got another notification that it was a negative $453.

BRHE BERRY: That was after paying nearly $200 on Monday. Savannah Thigpen lives alone in a one bedroom apartment in the Spring Branch area. In November, she switched to Griddy, a company that charges market price for customers based on kilowatt usage. She made the switch trying to save every last cent. Like so many, she's out of work because of the pandemic.

SAVANNAH THIGPEN: They actually save me a lot of money. I pretty much pay, like, maybe $0.05 per kilowatt, instead of, like, the $0.10 to $0.15. So they let us know on Sunday morning that it could go up to $1 to $3 per kilowatt.

BRHE BERRY: Since joining in November, Thigpen says her bill is never more than $50. Texas is a free market, which means you get to choose who powers your home. Griddy service is simple, but not without risk.

SAVANNAH THIGPEN: Sunday night we got the email letting us know that it was going up, and that if we could switch, to do that, but it was Sunday, and none of the places were open.

BRHE BERRY: In a rare move Sunday night, Griddy sent out an email to all 29,000 of its customers, urging them to switch to a different provider. Thigpen been says she tried Monday morning, but no one was taking new customers. She hasn't brought her thermostat above 60 degrees in her home.

SAVANNAH THIGPEN: I'm really kind of predicting that I'm going to have to pay over $1,000 just for one week of electricity.

BRHE BERRY: Now here's the thing. She knows she signed up for this plan. She knew there was some risk involved, but she says she had no other choice. She reached out to me on Twitter, because she also says she knows she's not the only one in this situation. Now Griddy told customers for those who have it, they will not turn off their power if they have an unpaid bill at this time. She just says she's hoping that her bill will be forgiven, a portion of it, you know, not all of it, but some of it, and that maybe if that's not the case, they'll provide a payment plan. But she's not even sure switching at this point to sign up for charges, other fees that come with signing up for a new provider, if it would even make sense to switch now.

- Yeah.