AUSTIN (KXAN) — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said state leaders “have a responsibility to protect Texans from spikes in their energy bills” following a series of winter storms that crippled the state this week.
There are reportedly growing concerns from across the state that Texans may be hit with extremely high utility bills due to the massive spike in the energy market this week. Gov. Abbott met with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, House Speaker Dade Phelan and other members of the legislature Saturday afternoon to address those concerns.
According to a spokesperson — “legislators focused on the need to quickly calculate the total cost of energy bills and how the state can help reduce this burden. The call ended with a discussion about addressing the immediate needs of Texans and how to ensure that Texans are protected long-term.”
“[The] meeting was productive, and I applaud Republican and Democrat members of the Legislature for putting aside partisan politics to work together on this challenge. We are moving quickly to alleviate this problem and will continue to work collaboratively throughout this week on solutions to help Texas families and ensure they do not get stuck with skyrocketing energy bills,” Gov. Abbott said in a statement.
Utility companies respond to bill concerns
Several Central Texas utility companies have released statements on potentially surging power bills.
Austin Energy says it “will not benefit financially in any way from this winter storm event.”
“Austin Energy’s base rates are fixed and any changes must be authorized by Austin City Council, our governing body, after a thorough rate review process. City Council directed Austin Energy to adjust customer’s base electric rates most recently in 2017 when rates decreased 6.7%,” according to a release.
Pedernales Electric Cooperative posted a FAQs sections on its website on rate increases. Pedernales says “the rate for your base power (per Kilowatt hour) during this weather event will not change; however, any variations in your bill will be due to the amount of energy consumed. Keep in mind, heating your home during cold weather can cause higher than normal energy consumption.”
Oncor says it “delivers electricity that you buy from your Retail Electric Provider (REP). Oncor bills the REP for the cost to deliver electricity to your home, so the bulk of Oncor charges on your residential electric bill are based on the amount of electricity you use. If you have been without power for an extended period of time, and have therefore used less electricity, it’s likely that your Oncor charges will be lower for this billing cycle. Your bill is also based on the rate charged by your REP, which varies based on which REP and plan you signed up for.”
More news from Gov. Abbott
On Saturday, Gov. Abbott waived certain regulations for certain registered and qualified plumber’s apprentices in Texas. These waivers allow a plumber’s apprentice, who has met all other qualifications, to temporarily perform plumbing repairs without ‘direct’ supervision by a licensed plumber so long as the qualified plumber’s apprentice works under the general supervision of a responsible master plumber.
This waiver will allow Texans more access to plumbing help after this week’s winter storms.
Additionally Saturday, Gov. Abbott waived regulations to enable trucks from the alcohol industry to deliver non-alcoholic grocery supplies, including bottled water and other necessities, to grocery stores.
“These waivers will provide more trucks, drivers, and logistical support to retailers who are working to replenish their stock in the aftermath of the winter storm,” said Governor Abbott. “We are taking action to ensure Texans continue to have access to food as our state recovers.”
Gov. Abbott issued a statement Saturday after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued waivers to increase access to gasoline and diesel fuel in certain Texas communities impacted by winter weather.
These waivers will temporarily allow for the use of an additional or alternate type of fuel for Texas Low Emissions Diesel and oxygenated gasoline fuels.
Gov. Abbott has issued waivers to temporarily allow for the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) to cover overtime payments for meat inspectors in Texas. DSHS will pay overtime costs for meat inspectors that are working to restore the meat supply in Texas over the next week.
“These waivers will ensure meat inspectors are compensated for their time without burdening meat-processing and slaughterhouse establishments with extensive overtime costs throughout the next week,” said Gov. Abbott. “Meat inspectors are crucial to restoring our meat supply in our state, and I thank them for working around the clock for their fellow Texans.”