Freezing temperatures could impact NEC members upcoming bills
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 Nueces Electric Cooperative (NEC), residential members 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. Freezing temperatures lasting 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, combined with additional operational strain from mandated outages, significantly raised individual usage during this period of time. NEC’s meter data suggest usage for some members has doubled over the previous month. NEC also wants to inform members that when your power is out, the meter is out and is not collecting any data. In other words, you are not billed for any usage when your power is out.
The second element at play is your power provider’s rates. NEC is unique because they are the only electric cooperative in Texas to voluntarily deregulate. This means that rather than providing distribution services and selling energy to members at a fixed or variable rate like other co-ops, NEC opened its territory to competitive power providers in 2005. Since then, members have had the option to choose their retail electric provider from a small list of providers who wish to be considered by NEC members. NEC maintains the distribution lines that serve the homes and businesses within its service territory.
Depending on your chosen power provider, you may see an increase in your power provider’s pricing and in turn have a higher electric bill. Power providers have ways to mitigate the impacts of market price spikes and if they manage this well, it does not always mean consumer prices will rise significantly. NEC wants to encourage its members to reach out to their retail electric provider for questions regarding rates and storm impacts on your upcoming electricity bills.
Lastly, NEC encourages all members to follow local news sources, the NEC Facebook page, as well as the NEC website for updates and the aftermath regarding the winter storm, increased electric bills, and ERCOT’s mandated outages.