EL PASO, Texas (KFOX14/CBS4) — Former El Paso congressman Beto O'Rourke spoke exclusively to KFOX14 on the one-year anniversary of the Texas freeze of 2021.
O'Rourke will travel to 20 cities around the state campaigning and to meet the people affected by the freeze.
"None of this was an act of God, by force of mother nature but had to do with decisions of those made at the highest position of power," said O'Rourke. "The worst part about it is that every single ratepayer in the state of Texas, including those of us here in El Paso, are paying higher electricity bills, higher heating bills, as a result of this. Folks are calling it the Abbott Tax."
According to O'Rourke thousands of people lost power in Houston during a weather event.
O'Rouke said that ERCOT says if Texas has extreme weather such as the one from last year, we will likely see shortfalls.
O'Rourke said he wants to weatherize the grid completely, that the Texas grid needs to be connected to the rest of the national grid and not make ratepayers pay more.
Experts caution the state's energy grid is unprepared for the next major statewide extreme weather event, but there are steps consumers can take to protect themselves.
"Texans are still feeling the effects of last year's disastrous freeze. As Texans, we should all be taking steps to protect ourselves from another freeze. There are two ways we see that Texans can protect themselves: emergency preparedness and securing a low electricity rate," said Tohra Shariff, President of EnerGenie.
State lawmakers passed legislation in 2021 in an attempt to make the energy grid more resilient against future storms, but there is concern another extreme freeze would once again cripple power plants and natural gas facilities.
According to Tohra, "even though the winter freeze for Texans may have been a once in a lifetime event, it's still important to stay prepared. Our research shows that nearly 20% of customers forget to renew their electricity contract, which leaves them at risk to significant rate hikes during severe weather events."
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Many Texans learned about variable electricity rates the hard way during the February freeze last year, where some consumers reported electricity bills in the thousands of dollars. Because many electricity companies were not prepared for the energy demand, the customers that were on a variable rate were subject to significant rate hikes. EnerGenie protects customers from a similar fate because where customers may forget to renew, EnerGenie constantly monitors their customer's accounts to ensure they stay on a low fixed rate.
Additionally, each customer's electricity usage is unique. EnerGenie analyzes hundreds of electricity plans from dozens of electricity providers in Texas. EnerGenie uses its proprietary technology to predict customer usage patterns to match them with the plan that fits their unique needs.
"When searching for a plan, it's easy for customers to fall prey to predatory electricity rates that look nice, but don't actually protect them from high electricity bills. This is where EnerGenie's expertise helps the customer most - our technology and expertise allows us to analyze hundreds of options for each customer," says Tohra.
EnerGenie's President, Tohra Shariff, is available for expert commentary on ways consumers in Texas can protect themselves from high electricity bills, gimmicky rates, or even the next "once in a lifetime" storm.
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