Texas army veteran faces $16,000 bill due to rocketing energy prices as billionaire gas producer and Dallas Cowboys owner stands to profit from it
- Some Texans are facing a steep increase in energy bills in the wake of the winter storm.
- One man told The New York Times he’d received a $16,000 electricity bill.
- The president of shale drilling company was heard referring to the price hikes as “hitting the jackpot.”
- Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.
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.”
The billionaire owner of the Dallas Cowboys, Jerry Jones, is now under fire for being a majority shareholder in Comstock.
“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.
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.
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