This past Thursday, Tower Village roommates Estrella Bustamante and Emily Grant, both juniors at the University of Dallas, received an unexpectedly high electric bill on Thursday from their power company Griddy following statewide snowstorms and power outages.
“While we thought we were lucky to have kept our power during the storm, our electrician Griddy raised its price from 12¢/kWh to $9/kWh, making our electric bill go from a typical $80 to $3,689.37,” Bustamante wrote.
Due to the unusual circumstances, a parent stepped in to pay the bill for Bustamante and Grant. Although the prices increased virtually overnight, the roommates’ electric company Griddy sent an email to customers explaining the situation.
“On Monday evening the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) cited its ‘complete authority over ERCOT’ to direct that ERCOT set pricing at $9/kWh until the grid could manage the outage situation after being ravaged by the freezing winter storm.”
The email from Griddy described how the unexpected situation led to them raising their prices and included graphics and said that “the rules changed Monday.” It concluded with a resolution to improve the situation for Griddy’s customers.
“We intend to fight this for, and alongside, our customers for equity and accountability – to reveal why such price increases were allowed to happen as millions of Texans went without power.”
An auto-reply support email from Griddy listed payment deferment plans as one option for cash-limited customers. Despite Griddy’s claims, Bustamante is skeptical about the extent of the company’s responsibility for the large bill.
“I don’t know where all that money is going or who is telling the truth. I just know that I and so many other people under their service are facing an outrageous bill that should be illegal,” Bustamante wrote.
Bustamante and Grant had recently had a self-quarantine lifted, so they were low on groceries. Nevertheless, they opened their apartment to others in need.
“We’ve taken in some people who have lost power since they had nowhere else to go, and we’ve just been trying to keep our heads with the school updates and the snow melting,” wrote Bustamante.
In addition to their high electric troubles, Bustamante and Grant lacked water for about 24 hours last week as well.
“Old Mill didn’t offer an explanation as to why our water went out, and we were the only block in the Mill to lose water. So that was unfortunate,” Grant wrote in a text on Saturday.
On Sunday, Feb. 14, Pres. Joe Biden had declared a state of emergency in Texas, which granted federal funding for the protection of at-risk residents.
According to the press release, “Emergency protective measures for mass care and sheltering and direct federal assistance will be provided at 75 percent federal funding.”
UD ended up canceling all virtual learning and work as a result of the rolling outages, commuting issues and water problems every subsequent weekday starting Monday, Feb. 15.