As the Texas power grid collapsed under a historic winter storm, Jose Del Rio of Haltom City, in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, saw the electricity bill on a vacant two-bedroom home he is trying to sell slowly creep up over the past two weeks. Typically, the bill is around $125 to $150 a month, he said. But his account has already been charged about $630 this month — and he still owes another $2,600.
“If worse comes to worst, I have the ability to put it on a credit card or figure something out," Del Rio said. ”There is no one living in that house. All the lights are off. But I have the air at 60 because I don’t want the pipes to freeze.”
When he contacted Griddy, his electric company, they advised him to switch providers, Del Rio said.
This is outright theft. If there was ever a need to protect people from being taken advantage of, this is it. There should be caps on what Griddy can charge. There should be regulation as to what Griddy can do to consumers. But there aren't! That's what's so crazy about this situation.
“The last thing an awful lot of people need right now is a higher electric bill — and that’s unfortunately something a lot of people will get stuck with,” Schulz said.
Royce Pierce and his wife, Danielle, who live in Willow Park, west of Dallas, have been watching their electricity bill tick up by nearly $10,000 in the last few days for their three-bedroom home. While the family told NBC News they consider themselves lucky because they’ve had power, the financial burden has come with additional challenges.
Since the family is on a variable rate plan with Griddy, the company automatically debits the bill as they use electricity. Danielle said she closed the debit card connected to their electricity bill because Griddy wiped it out. The family has been using separate accounts and credit cards to pay for necessities as the storm goes on.
Griddy claims that they are fighting against the rate increases. Good! Fight like hell! But when you discover that Texas politicians have set up a lobbyist-friendly situation that allows a public utility to fleece consumers, that's when it is time to say enough is enough, goddammit.
I don't care what the "variable rate plan" is because I don't think anyone should have to pay these outlandish prices. Your power bill--and, for that matter, your health care bill--should not be allowed to wipe out your credit cards and your bank account. Add "variable rate utility bill" to the list of things that needs to be fixed now that there is a Democrat in the White House.
This is exorbitant and cruel in nature. The Federal government needs to step in and protect the people of Texas from predatory utility companies that have no right whatsoever to drain the life savings of anyone. And no, I don't care if it's a legal agreement between the utility and the customer or if it's something people signed away their rights for. I think the government HAS to step in when a situation gets to this level of price gouging. It is immoral and unjust.