Feb. 21 (UPI) — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott met with state leaders to address spikes in energy prices as the state deals with a winter storm that cut power to millions of Texans.
Abbott held a meeting on Saturday with Lieutenant Gov. Dan Patrick, Texas Speaker Dade Phelan and other members of the legislature, saying the state is “moving quickly to alleviate this problem” and searching for collaborative solutions to prevent Texans from being stuck with high energy bills.
“We have a responsibility to protect Texans from spikes in their energy bills that are a result of the severe winter weather and power outages,” Abbott said.
Electricity prices shot up to as high as $9,000 a megawatt-hour on Monday after data from the Electric Reliability Council of Texas showed that they were below $50 per megawatt-hour before the state was hit by the storm.
“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 before the meeting.
Abbott’s office said the meeting on Saturday focused on calculating the cost of the rising energy bills and how the state can help to “reduce this burden.”
More than 30,000 customers in Texas remain without power as of Sunday morning, according to poweroutage.us, after nearly 3 million were initially without power as the state’s power grid experienced a failure due to a lack of generation brought on by the freezing temperatures.
Officials on Saturday said lack of generation was no longer the cause of the remaining outages, but they were instead due to damage from the ice storm or large industrial facilities that volunteered to go offline to help reduce stress on the power grid during the emergency.
Water issues were affecting 14.1 million people, slightly less than half the total state’s population, Gary Rasp, a media specialist for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, said in a report by CNN. But he said boil-water notices are being rescinded across the state.
Water is also not available in some areas because of broken pipes. Also, homes have had flooding.
During Saturday’s meeting, the leaders also discussed federal aid to the state after President Joe Biden approved a major disaster declaration for all 254 counties in the state.
“I thank President Biden for his assistance as we respond to impacts of winter weather across our state,” Abbott said, according to The Texas Tribune. “While this partial approval is an important first step, Texas will continue to work with our federal partners to ensure all eligible Texans have access to the relief they need. The funds provided under the Major Disaster Declaration may provide crucial assistance to Texans as they begin to repair their homes and address property damage.”