Governor Greg Abbott Ordered Price Increases on Electric Bills During 2021 Freeze
While millions were out of power and freezing, Gov. Greg Abbott was ordering price gouging according to ERCOT CEO.
According to Newsweek, former Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) CEO Bill Magness testified in court Wednesday that the Texas governor pushed for power prices to reach and remain at the maximum cap of $9,000 per megawatt-hour which is 150 times the normal rate.
An estimated 4.5 million Texans lost power in the record deep freeze causing the deaths of at least 246 Texans.
Magness said he was given no choice but to go with the rate increase which racked up huge profits for energy companies while telling Public Utility Commission (PUC) chair DeAnn Walker to do anything to prevent more power failures.
The PUC ordered the maximum price as a part of the effort to prevent any more power failures on February 15 and kept the price cap in place till February 19.
"[Walker] told me the governor had conveyed to her if we emerged from rotating outages it was imperative they not resume," said Magness reportedly in his testimony. "We needed to do what we needed to do to make it happen."
Mark Miner, the spokesman for Gov. Abbott, said the governor was not involved "in any way" with the price increase in comments last year to the Houston Chronicle.
In a statement after Magness' testimony on Wednesday, Abbott campaign spokesperson Renae Eze also stated the governor was not involved in the increase.
"As Texans would expect, Governor Abbott instructed everyone involved that they must do what was needed to keep the power on and to prevent the loss of life," said Eze. "This is the same instruction Governor Abbott gave to the PUC and ERCOT earlier this year: do what needs to be done to keep the power on."
Magness was testifying in a bankruptcy trial for Brazos Electric Power Cooperative which argues the price increase forced it into bankruptcy after the $1.9 billion energy bill.
DeAnn Walker resigned from the PUC and Bill Magness was fired after the blackout crisis in 2021.