Some Texans could be hit with spiking power bills

The cost of a kilowatt hour of electricity shot through the roof last week. But not all customers' power bills will be sky high.

Video Transcript

- So for many of you, the worst of the winter storm is over. But some are still dealing with the aftermath that took power and water from millions.

- Today Mayor Sylvester Turner announced a relief fund that will help with plumbing, home repair, temporary housing and more.

SYLVESTER TURNER: Today, Houston, Harris County, we come together to say to those individuals, to those seniors, the people who don't have insurance, the people who don't have the financial means that just because the power's on and the water pressure is up, that we recognize that your situation will-- that you are still in a situation where you're needing help, you're needing assistance, you're needing relief.

- And a week after that devastation that he's talking about, electricity companies may soon be facing exorbitant bills.

- Yeah, we've received questions from viewers concerned after the cost of electricity soared last week. ABC 13 reporter Shelley Childers spoke with an expert to get us some answers this evening. Shelley?

SHELLEY CHILDERS: Yeah, this expert tells us the cost of electricity last week skyrocketed from about 9 cents per kilowatt hour to $9 per kilowatt hour. And he says it all depends on what kind of electricity plan you have. Those customers could be on the hook for thousands.

As that winter storm moved in on Texas last week, the cost of our electricity surged. Jesson Bradshaw with Energy Ogre says customers who use real-time market plans getting their electricity at wholesale prices from companies like Griddy will likely see that surge pricing with bills in the thousands.

JESSON BRADSHAW: The price that's being charged is $9 per kilowatt hour. So we're going to rack up some of these very, very large bills very, very quickly for that very, very, very small sub-segment of the marketplace that was purchasing service that way.

SHELLEY CHILDERS: So we asked him, if you're on a fixed rate plan, will your bill also be higher?

JESSON BRADSHAW: The rate is not going to change like that. They don't have that $9 per kilowatt hour kind of exposure.

SHELLEY CHILDERS: Will customers have to pay those high bills in full?

JESSON BRADSHAW: It's definitely an obligation that someone can come after them for.

SHELLEY CHILDERS: He says, next, you should contact your provider. Try to negotiate that bill down and set up a payment plan.

JESSON BRADSHAW: Every provider in the state, by statute, has the obligation to offer some kind of a payment plan to their customers.

SHELLEY CHILDERS: But you do have time. The Public Utility Commission met in an emergency meeting Sunday, granting a moratorium on disconnections for customers who do not pay their bills.

JESSON BRADSHAW: The disconnect moratorium is a feature that works. It works for everybody.

SHELLEY CHILDERS: In the meantime, Governor Abbott says he is working to find a solution to this issue as customers take to GoFundMe seeking financial relief.

And this expert estimates there are about 30,000 Griddy customers across Texas now seeking help. We are continuing to answer your questions. We'll have more coming up at 6:30. For now, reporting live from southwest Houston, Shelley Childers, ABC 13 Eyewitness News.