Historic Freeze Leading to Significantly Increased Bills for Utility Customers


The historically unprecedented state-wide freeze last week calling for the deployment of Emergency Operations to help stabilize the Texas energy grid is over, yet the repercussions are just beginning for utilities and their customers across the state in terms of the impact to their energy bills.

According to GVEC, residential customers can expect an increase in their upcoming bills driven by two primary factors. The first is through an increase of kilowatt hour usage during the week. According to Graham Hauptman, GVEC Senior Executive Manager, “Freezing temperatures lingering for consecutive days caused many central heating systems to operate in emergency heat mode, utilizing heat strips for long periods of time. Multiple days of this type of energy use, compounded by the additional operational strain from rotating outages, significantly raised individual usage during this period of time, which will result in a higher bill.”

The second element at play was pricing of wholesale power throughout the week, specifically during the Emergency Energy Alert Level 3. GVEC Chief Executive Officer and General Manager Darren Schauer stated, “With ERCOT ordering rotating outages, GVEC was forced to purchase certain allocations of power at $9.00 per kilowatt hour, up from the more traditional $0.06 per kilowatt hour. This extreme level of pricing has never happened—for the extended and continuous lengths which we saw—in the history of the ERCOT competitive wholesale market. Add to that a rise from around $2.00 to $180.00 per MMBtu of natural gas prices, commonly used to price electric energy products, and you have electric costs being so high that some entities are going bankrupt, and others are scrambling to ensure they have enough cash to survive.” Schauer continued, “The positive news is that due to the strong financial position GVEC has held for years, as a result of our long-term financial strategy to hedge against large market fluctuations, GVEC will not have to immediately pass the high costs experienced last week to our members. While GVEC will likely need to raise the Generation and Transmission rate, the good news is the Cooperative, as a direct result of our strong financial position, has the ability to structure rate changes to help minimize the direct burden to our membership. GVEC is considering all options to design a rate that will recover the necessary costs over multiple years and lessen the overall impact to our members as much as possible.” The Cooperative says as plans are solidified, it will communicate directly with its members.

Updates are being shared on GVEC’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages as well as gvec.org.

GVEC is a progressive cooperative focused on delivering products and services that empower the people and communities in South Central Texas. A trusted, local partner since 1938, today GVEC provides dependable electricity, high-speed internet, and beyond the meter services like AC/heating, solar and battery storage solutions, and electrician services. The cooperative proudly serves over 100,000 consumers in surrounding areas through five customer service locations in Cuero, Gonzales, La Vernia, Schertz and Seguin.