Texas Woman Files $1B Suit After Receiving $9,000 Electric Bill
The lawsuit claims Houston-based Griddy Energy overcharged some 29,000 customers and sent bills as high as $17,000.
Megan VerHelst, Patch StaffPosted Fri, Feb 26, 2021 at 2:36 pm CT|Updated Fri, Feb 26, 2021 at 2:56 pm CT
HOUSTON, TX — Last week, the state of Texas faced days of bitter cold temperatures, deadly power outages and unprecedented water shortages. In the midst of it, some Texans were hit with yet another staggering blow: bills claiming they owed electric companies thousands upon thousands of dollars.
Lisa Khoury of Mont Belvieu was among them. Typically, her electric bills through Houston-based Griddy Energy average about $250.
Her most recent bill, however, was $9,546 for service between Feb. 1 and Feb. 19.
Many Texans are now left wondering what they’ll do about these bills, but Khoury is hitting back at Griddy Energy. This week, she filed a $1 billion class-action lawsuit against the company accusing it of cashing in on a natural disaster, according to a report by Reuters.
The lawsuit is seeking compensatory and punitive damages for soaring electric bills, Reuters reported, citing a copy of the complaint filed in state court.Subscribe
It also claims some customers had bills as high as $17,000.
The complaint goes on to accuse the company of “overcharging” some 29,000 customers “knowing consumers would be harmed,” according to ABC News.
The lawsuit is among the latest filed against companies behind Texas’ power grid. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas is also facing lawsuits after more than 4 million customers lost power in the storm.
Griddy Energy has called the suit “meritless.”
“We understand our customers’ frustration,” a company spokesperson said in an email to Reuters. “The lawsuit is meritless and we plan to vigorously defend it.”
While many Texans are on “fixed rate” electricity plans that protect them from dramatic market swings, others pay rates tied to the spot price of wholesale electricity, which skyrocketed during the storm, according to the Texas Tribune.
As bad winter weather targeted Texas, it froze natural gas production and wind turbines, causing energy demand to skyrocket.
In response, the Texas Public Utility Commission let the wholesale market price of electricity rise to $9 per kilowatt hour, a 7,400 percent increase over the average 12 cents per kilowatt hour.
Scott Willoughby, a 63-year-old Army veteran who lives on Social Security payments in a Dallas suburb, told the New York Times he had nearly emptied his savings account so he could pay the $16,752 electric bill charged to his credit card.
“My savings is gone,” he told the Times. “There’s nothing I can do about it, but it’s broken me.”
On Sunday, Gov. Greg Abbott called the exorbitant bills the state legislature’s “top priority.” He also temporarily banned power companies from billing customers or disconnecting them for non-payment, according to another Reuters report.
“Texans who have suffered through days of freezing cold without power should not be subjected to skyrocketing energy bills,” Abbott told reporters in San Antonio.ThankReply (3)Share