Texas AG sues Griddy over customers’ sky-high energy bills following icy winter storm

Southwest

FILE – This Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2021, file photo shows power lines in Houston. When an unusually heavy winter storm blanketed much of Texas with snow, knocking out electricity to millions of homes and leaving many struggling to find clean water, one sector of the population was particularly vulnerable: inmates in Houston at the state’s largest county jail. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File)

AUSTIN, Texas (NewsNation Now) — Texas’ attorney general said Monday he’s suing electricity provider Griddy for passing along massive bills to its customers during last month’s devastating winter storm.

The lawsuit comes days after Texas’ power grid manager effectively shut down Griddy by revoking its access to the state’s electricity market.

Griddy charges $10 a month to give people a way to pay wholesale prices for electricity instead of a fixed rate. But when temperatures plummeted well below freezing last month, wholesale prices spiked and Griddy customers were left with sky-high electricity bills.

“Griddy misled Texans and signed them up for services which, in a time of crisis, resulted in individual Texans each losing thousands of dollars,” Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a statement Monday. “As Texans struggled to survive this winter storm, Griddy made the suffering even worse as it debited outrageous amounts each day.”

The lawsuit accused Griddy of violating the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act and seeks refunds for customers. The unusually heavy winter storm blanketed much of Texas with snow, knocking out electricity to 4 million customers and leaving many struggling to find clean water.

The single-digit temperatures rocked the Lone Star state. The storm was part of any icy blast across the Deep South that is blamed for more than 80 deaths, roughly half of which were in Texas.

Multiple top board leaders of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT resigned following the deadly winter freeze. Four of the departing board members acknowledged “concerns about out-of-state board leadership” in a letter to grid members and the state’s Public Utility Commission, which oversees ERCOT. During the crisis, ERCOT officials removed contact information for board members from its website, saying they had become the target of threats.

ERCOT said the state was close to a “catastrophic blackout.”

“We were at a level of frequency that needed to be addressed immediately,” ERCOT President and CEO Bill Magness said last month, “and that’s what the operators did. It was seconds and minutes, given the amount of generation coming off the system at the same time the demand was still going up significantly.”

ERCOT shifted about 10,000 Griddy customers to other utilities on Friday.

Those who were customers were automatically shifted over to a new retail electric provider designated to POLR, according to Griddy.

Griddy said in a statement it “was not a choice we made” and that ERCOT “took our members and have effectively shut down Griddy.”

“We have always been transparent and customer-centric at every step. We wanted to continue the fight for our members to get relief and that hasn’t changed,” the statement said. Asked for comment on the lawsuit filed by the Texas Attorney General, Griddy provided this statement to NewsNation:

We are aware of the lawsuit filed by the Texas Attorney General against Griddy. We do not agree with the claims alleged in the complaint, and plan to vigorously defend against it. Until then the company has no further comment.

You can read the full lawsuit below:

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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