Price Gouging During the TX Power Outage: Is There Legal Recourse?
Recorded on March 10, 2021.
Due to three severe winter storms sweeping across the United States in February 2021, a massive electricity generation failure occurred in the state of Texas, resulting in more than 4.5 million homes and businesses being left without power, some for several days. Some people were lucky enough not to lose power but did end up with extremely high energy bills. Do those people who got price gouged have any legal recourse?
Attorney Paul Harding of Martin, Harding & Mazzotti, LLP is on the radio with WIZN to help explain.
For more information, please contact us at Martin, Harding & Mazzotti, LLP to learn more, today!
Joe: 106.7 WIZN. It’s The Cars, “Let’s Go.” Wait, before that. Joe Vega taking you through your Wednesday rock and ride home. And I’m joined now by Paul Harding from Martin, Harding & Mazzotti. Hello, Paul.
Paul: Hey, Joe. How are you?
Joe: I’m doing well. Thank you for asking. So, I’m calling you because I had a question for you. It’s in regards to last month, of course, and it was in the news. Everybody saw it. It was in Texas. And in the Midwest, in general, just got creamed with cold weather and snow. Something they’re not used to, and there were power outages. And in Texas, it was especially bad because Texas is on its own power grid, separate from everyone else. And so, the people there were out of power for a long time. It was really bad. But some people were lucky enough to have power. But those people got an awfully large bill. I’m sure you saw those news reports.
Paul: I did. I did.
Joe: Yeah. So, my question for you is, do those people who got price gouged have any legal recourse?
Paul: You know, it’s interesting. When you first see that, you’re like, “Well, of course.” You know, the guy had a $17,000 bill…
Joe: Seventeen thousand dollars?
Paul: …for eight days of service.
Joe: That’s unbelievable.
Paul: Eight days of service. They already took it out of his bank account. He had a direct withdrawal. What you haven’t checked is this is a completely unregulated energy industry. So, demand went way up. And then, these grids that were frozen were not producing. So the ones that could produce were getting over-taxed. So what you have is people getting the power they wanted. Their contract was unregulated so there was no top end. And now we’ve got these crazy bills. There’s lawsuits filed. But probably, they got what they could’ve gotten had they read the fine print.
Joe: So, they’re gonna have to pay these bills?
Paul: I think what’s gonna happen is Texas was pretty embarrassed about this. Right? They set up something. They didn’t expect that many days and that much demand because of the cold weather. That’s not Texas, right? It could be you have a little snow that goes away. It’s 60 the next day. So, in this situation, I think the legislature is going to make good on this. And then, I think they’re gonna make those contracts where you have unregulated energy no longer available. They’re gonna put caps on it. They don’t want to see this happen again. And, quite frankly, you know, it went beyond just the dollars. You know, people froze to death and there was plenty of injuries.
Joe: Yeah, of course, there were like 80 deaths. Something like that. Yeah, I guess my final question is, that couldn’t happen in New York or Vermont, right? There’s no way…
Paul: Yep, no.
Joe: …that’s gonna happen here, right?
Paul: Yeah, we do have some unregulated, some wholesale buying. But we have caps. We have caps. And we also are prepared for cold weather, right, because we live in cold weather. And they just didn’t spend the money, and that’s gonna be another change probably down there, to have these protected by either high heat or lots of cold.
Joe: Well, that’s good to hear. All right. Thank you very much. Paul Harding from Martin Harding & Mazzotti. Thanks for coming on, Paul.
Paul: Okay, Joe. Talk soon.
Joe: Call Paul or any of the fine lawyers at Martin Harding & Mazzotti at 1-800-LAW-1010. You can also go online to 1800law1010.com. All right. Mel Alice taking over from here. He’s got music from Billy Squire and Deep Purple next.