Texas is barring electricity companies from shutting off service for unpaid bills after storms caused prices to surge

texas weather
Roads were covered with snow and sleet on February 15 in Spring, Texas. David J. Phillip/AP
  • Some Texans described facing $5,000 utility bills after winter storms caused prices to surge.

  • Regulators on Sunday said electric providers were barred from shutting off service for unpaid bills.

  • A news release said the orders were "intended to be temporary, likely through the end of this week."

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The Public Utility Commission of Texas on Sunday said electricity companies would be temporarily barred from cutting off service because of unpaid bills.

Gov. Greg Abbott announced the move earlier in the day, following an emergency meeting that was held Saturday to address the surging electricity bills some Texans were receiving after the devastating winter storm.

In a news release about the moratorium, the commission said it issued a series of orders timed to prevent Texans with unpaid bills from losing power on Monday. It said the orders were "intended to protect Texas electricity customers while leaders in the state consider solutions for the financial aftershocks of the winter storm grid event."

The orders also included a continuation of a COVID-19 policy that requires electric providers to offer deferred payment plans by customer request.

"Our absolute top priority as a commission and a state is protecting electricity customers from the devastating effects of a storm that already affected their delivery of power," DeAnn Walker, the commission chairman, said in the statement.

She also said the orders were "intended to be temporary, likely through the end of this week."

The commission also "strongly urged" electric providers to delay billing residential and small commercial customers.

The moratorium came after some Texans said they received electricity bills for more than $5,000 for less than a week of service.

During the unusually cold winter storms last week, demand for electricity surged, hiking the wholesale price 10,000% as some power plants failed. Some residents were being charged $1,000 a day for electricity, according to The Dallas Morning News.

The winter storms ultimately caused millions of Texans to go days without any power during the extreme cold.

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