© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Winter weather caused electricity blackouts in Houston
(Reuters) – Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick on Thursday called for Governor Greg Abbott to use his emergency powers to roll back high storm power pricing that has roiled the state’s electricity industry.
Patrick, who presides over the state senate, has become the biggest proponent of reducing about $47 billion in power costs from a mid-February cold snap. He took his case to the governor after the state’s utilities regulator rejected price cuts and the house referred the matter to committee.
The deep freeze killed at least 56 people and left 4.3 million Texans without power or heat for days after half the state’s power plants went offline. The demand and lack of generation sent wholesale power costs up 400 times the usual amount. Four companies have filed for bankruptcy and dozens more are in danger of going out of business.
The governor can use emergency power to order a rollback of 32 hours of high pricing or request an investigation that will allow the changes to be considered further, Patrick said at a press conference. The state has just another day to reprice the charges or lose the ability under grid rules, he said.
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