Anger over huge power bills for Texas residents after storm
Millions of Texans were still without safe water on Sunday as officials fielded angry complaints over shockingly large power bills spawned by a cold weather crisis that Houston’s mayor said was ultimately preventable.
The frigid air mass that paralysed parts of the southern and central United States early in the week claimed more than 70 lives, left millions temporarily without power and froze water lines.
“All of what happened this week was foreseeable and preventable,” Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner told CBS’s “Face the Nation,” saying it had long been clear that the independent electric grid in Texas was vulnerable to extreme weather.
Turner said Houston, the fourth-largest US city, still needed both plumbing supplies and plumbers, but was making progress in restoring service.
Both Houston and nearby Galveston on Sunday lifted orders for residents to boil drinking water.
But some 28,000 households remained without electricity on Sunday, the poweroutage.us website said, and many Texans were suffering an added insult: residential electric bills sometimes running into the thousands of dollars, with one as high as $16,000.
While most of the state’s utility customers are on fixed-rate plans, some had signed up to variable-rate plans that can save money in fair weather but produce explosive increases in frigid temperatures.
Governor Greg Abbott met with legislators of both parties Saturday to discuss the billing problem and said, “We have a responsibility to protect Texans from spikes in their energy bills.”
For his part, Turner said “those exorbitant costs (should be) borne by the state of Texas, and not the individual consumers who did not cause this catastrophe.”
President Joe Biden on Saturday issued a major-disaster declaration for much of the state, providing badly needed financial and administrative aid…..read more