Texas woman who received $9,300 electricity bill files class action lawsuit

HOUSTON (NEXSTAR) – A woman accused Texas electricity company Griddy of cutting prices during a winter storm that stole electricity from millions of people has filed a class action lawsuit.

Lisa Khoury, who lives about 30 miles east of Houston in Mont Belvieu, said in a press release that her bill rose to $ 9,340 between February 13 and 19 when Griddy made daily withdrawals from her bank account.

Unlike companies that offer fixed tariffs, Griddy charges its customers $ 10 a month and delivers power at any wholesale price, according to the Texas Tribune. The wholesale rate skyrocketed after floods and other storm-related conditions, crippling supply as demand increased.

The story of ERCOT: How Texas became the only state with its own power grid

Khoury says she is used to paying $ 200-250 a month and had to post a request for payment on her bank account after repeated failed attempts to get responses from Griddy.

“Right now we don’t know how many people might be affected, but there are likely thousands of customers who have received these outrageous bills,” said Derek Potts of Potts law firm in Houston, who represents Ms. Khoury. “A class action lawsuit will be the most efficient and effective way for Griddy’s customers to come together and fight this predatory pricing.”

The proposed class action lawsuit would cover all Texas Griddy customers who received “excessive charges” after the storm.

The lawsuit, filed in a Harris County District Court, claims Griddy more than $ 1 billion for alleged violations of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.

Griddy didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment, but said in a statement on the company’s website that the Texas Public Utility Commission (PUCT) has instructed ERCOT, the council that manages the flow of electricity to Texans, to keep wholesale prices at 9 USD / kWh – around 300 times higher than the normal wholesale price.

Griddy claims the move was meant to be temporary, only until the grid could handle rising consumption as temperatures plummeted, but stayed in place even after millions got power back later in the week.

The PUCT has launched an investigation into “indexed” power plans like Griddy’s, which tie costs to wholesale prices.

“While the architecture of these indexed plans [is] Theoretically permissible under state law and commission regulations, an influx of complaints into our customer protection department has raised concerns that questionable business practices could exacerbate the situation, ”said Thomas Gleeson, Executive Director of PUCT.

The Supply Commission found that customers of municipal utilities and other providers with fixed or variable price contracts “will remain largely unaffected by the increase in the wholesale price for electricity due to the scarcity. Customers with plans tied to the wholesale price report serious financial consequences. “

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