Anger over huge power bills in 'preventable' Texas weather crisis

Anger over huge power bills in 'preventable' Texas weather crisis

米テキサス州、寒波で電気料金が急騰 170万円のケースも

Millions of Texans were still without safe water on Sunday as officials fielded angry complaints over shockingly large power bills spawned by a cold weather crisis that Houston's mayor said was ultimately preventable.
The frigid air mass that paralyzed parts of the southern and central United States early in the week claimed some 70 lives, left millions temporarily without power and froze water lines.
All of what happened this week was foreseeable and preventable, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner told CBS's Face the Nation, saying it had long been clear that the independent electric grid in Texas was vulnerable to extreme weather.
Turner said Houston, the fourth-largest US city, still needed both plumbing supplies and plumbers, but was making progress in restoring service.
Houston residents have been told to continue boiling water until Monday. Nearby Galveston, on the Gulf of Mexico, ended its boil-water order on Sunday.
Some 31,000 households remained without electricity on Sunday, the poweroutage.us website said, and many Texans were suffering an added insult: monthly electric bills sometimes running as high as $16,000 or more.
While most of the state's utility customers are on fixed-rate plans, some had signed up to variable-rate plans that can save money in fair weather but produce explosive increases in frigid temperatures.
Turner said those bills, those exorbitant costs (should be) borne by the state of Texas, and not the individual consumers who did not cause this catastrophe.
President Joe Biden on Saturday issued a major-disaster declaration for much of the state, providing badly needed financial and administrative aid.
His spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Sunday that Biden hoped to visit Texas as early as this week if he could do so without interfering with recovery efforts.
Michael McCaul, a Republican congressman from Texas, said the financial impact of the weather crisis could equal that of Hurricane Harvey, a devastating 2017 storm that caused an estimated $125 billion in damages.
He said Biden's emergency declaration could provide funds to help users pay their exorbitant electric bills.
That's the current plan, with federal assistance, to be able to help homeowners, he said on CNN.
State and local officials have demanded investigations of how the power crisis unfolded so disastrously.
A US senator, Tina Smith, a Democrat of Minnesota, has called for a federal investigation. She said spot prices of natural gas had spiked by up to 100 times normal rates, which utilities had passed on to customers.

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