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Texans who were able to use electricity supplies to their homes while storms cut off power across swaths of the state now face crippling bills, according to reports.
Scott Willoughby, an Army veteran who lives on social security checks in a Dallas suburb, told The New York Times that unlike many who had no electricity during freezing storms that devastated the state, he suffered no power outage.
But at a vast cost — with an electricity bill he received for keeping power on during the storm coming to an eye-watering $16,000.
Willoughby told the Times that the bill had cleaned out his savings.
“There’s nothing I can do about it, but it’s broken me,” he told the publication.
The huge bill increases have impacted Texans whose electricity bills aren’t at a fixed rate but hitched to market prices vulnerable to fluctuations in value.
With the huge increase in electricity demand during the storm, wholesale electricity prices have been pushed up to more than $9,000 per megawatt-hour. They’re normally around $50 per megawatt-hour, reported NBC News.
While the rocketing prices have financially devastated some, others stand to profit from the massive price surge.
Earlier this week, the president of shale drilling company Comstock Resources. Inc. was heard in a conference call crowing about the price hikes.
“This week is like hitting the jackpot with some of these incredible prices,” Roland Burns said on a conference call listened to by Bloomberg. “Frankly, we were able to sell at super-premium prices for a material amount of production.”
“Jerry Jones is doing what he has always done: trying to cash in,” wrote Sports Illustrated journalist Michael Rosenberg.
“He is a billionaire for a lot of reasons,” Rosenberg continued. “Business acumen, luck, fearlessness, and the willingness to do things like jack up the price of natural gas at a time when the people of Texas need it the most.”
Jones was also on the receiving end of criticism on social media.
As his fellow Texans suffered and even died due to the state’s power outages, Jerry Jones’ natural gas company was gloating about “hitting the jackpot” thanks to skyrocketing gas prices.
Billionaires profiting off of human suffering is a feature, not a bug, of our rigged system.
— Robert Reich (@RBReich) February 20, 2021
Jerry Jones getting rich on price gauging people who could freeze to death is the most Jerry Jones thing ever.
“This week is like hitting the jackpot with some of these incredible prices”, said his company’s CFO. 🤬
— Matt Rogers 🗳 (@Politidope) February 20, 2021
Jerry Jones Is making millions off a natural disaster where Texans are freezing to death and don’t have power or clean water.
But y’all gonna still buy tickets to Cowboys games, so…
— Bishop Talbert Swan (@TalbertSwan) February 19, 2021
Millions of Texans were left without energy last week amid freezing weather, with the energy grid collapsing amid a huge surge in demand.
On Saturday, Texas Governor Gregg Abbott said he’d met with 11 lawmakers to discuss ways to help Texans who the bill increases had impacted.
“It is unacceptable for Texans who suffered through days in the freezing cold without electricity or heat to now be hit with skyrocketing energy costs,” Abbott said in a written statement after the meeting.
He said that after the meeting lawmakers would work out the total cost of the bill increases, and ways the state could help customers affected by them.