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Rockport man says more can be done to address power grid failures

Winter Weather Texas Power Failures eletrical grid
Posted at 5:29 PM, Jun 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-01 21:23:36-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — While energy generating companies in Texas struggled during the February freeze, customers paid the price receiving unusually high electric bills.

We told you about Randy Thach of Rockport and how he was charged $9,000 by Griddy Energy.

“It was very stressful, I'll say that," said Thach. "I knew that they were charging me like $250 every two or three hours.”

It got so ridiculous for Thach he said he turned off his electricity until he could switch providers on February 22.

“In the mean time I had a generator and I just kept the electricity off to the house and switched over to the generator," Thach said. "It was a lot cheaper running on the generator than it was paying Griddy, so. But as far as my bill to Griddy, I haven’t got that straightened out. I mean it’s on a credit card and I'm paying interest on the credit card and all that.”

With the possibility of new legislation (Senate Bill 2, Senate Bill 3, House Bill 4492), Thach is happy something is being done. But more could be done.

“I think that’s a good idea that they’re requiring power companies to weatherize," he said. "I noticed that they said that they weren’t requiring all the national gas companies to weatherize. I’m not sure that’s a good idea.”

Power generating companies may now be forced to get ready prior to inclement weather or face a fine from state government. Thach wanted legislation to build off that.

“I think the problem is that they’re not expanding the grid to outside of Texas," said Thach.

He also has a problem with the funding that could come out of legislation. Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) could receive funding and loans could be given to retail electric providers.

“I saw they were bailing out ERCOT to the tune of $800 million... OK," said Thach. "That’s nice they’re bailing out ERCOT, the people that caused the problem in the first place. So, I didn’t see any mention in bailing out those of us that were on a variable rate plan that are stuck with thousands of dollars worth of electricity bills.”

Senate Bill 3 could also create a statewide alert system for future power outages.

“That’s a good idea, but I guarantee you that those of us that were on variable rate plans, we’re not going to be in that situation again,” he said.

After reaching out to AEP Texas on their thoughts on the legislation, they gave this statement.

It is important to remember that the load sheds that occurred during the February winter storm were triggered by a lack of generation feeding into the grid. AEP Texas delivers electricity over our power lines; we do not generate electricity.

Weatherizing power plants and natural gas facilities that supply power plants should help prevent this type of event from occurring again. AEP Texas has been strengthening its transmission system significantly over the past several years, which makes those transmission lines more resilient during adverse weather conditions such as the winter event in February.

Thach was still charged that $9,000 electric bill. Griddy filed for bankruptcy in March.