Texas power retailer Griddy is the target of a class action lawsuit filed in Houston on Monday alleging the company’s price rose to customers after winter storm Uri cut power to millions across the state.
The lead plaintiff in the lawsuit is Lisa Khoury, a Chambers County resident, whose electric bill for the week of the storm was $ 9,340, according to the lawsuit. Khoury’s normal monthly bill averages $ 200 to $ 250.
Khoury’s claim seeks to include all Texans who “used Griddy’s electricity services and were hit with excessive charges as a result of the storm,” according to the Houston-based Potts Law Firm. His lawsuit seeks more than $ 1 billion in financial assistance for affected customers, as well as a court order to prevent Griddy from collecting “excessive” bills.
“At this time, we don’t know how many people could be affected, but there are likely thousands of clients who have received these outrageous bills,” said attorney Derek Potts, who represents Khoury. “A class action lawsuit will be the most efficient and effective way for Griddy customers to come together and fight this predatory price.”
Griddy representatives could not immediately be reached for comment.
The lawsuit alleges that Griddy violated the Texas Deceptive Business Practices Act when it “allowed its customers to be charged such exorbitant amounts for electricity.”
The law states that false, deceptive or deceptive business practices “taking advantage of a governor declared disaster” are illegal. President Joe Biden approved a request for a Federal Emergency Declaration from Governor Greg Abbott on February 14.
In Texas’ deregulated energy market, Griddy and a handful of other electricity providers charge customers variable wholesale rates for energy. Those plans are relatively new and have frustrated customers who now have to deal with expensive bills during a week when power was intermittent for many.
Griddy made an unusual request last week when it told its 29,000 customers to switch to another provider when spot prices for electricity soared to $ 9,000 per megawatt-hour. Your customers are fully exposed to real-time changes in the wholesale power markets, resulting in electric bills of up to $ 16,000 last week.
On Friday, the Houston-based company said it was seeking relief from the power grid operator ERCOT and the state utility commission for its customers exposed to high bills.
Khoury tried to switch energy providers on February 16 but was unable to switch to a new one until three days after “persistent” communication, according to the lawsuit.
About 25% to 30% of Texans have a variable rate plan with their energy provider, according to Houston Public Media, which cited plan comparison website ElectricityPlans.com.
The Texas blackouts and rising energy costs were horrible for customers who had to pay bills, but some businesses are experiencing a financial windfall.
Australian investment banking firm Macquarie Group, which last year injected an undisclosed amount of private equity into Griddy, said it expects to make a net profit after tax of $ 215 million, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Billionaire Jerry Jones’s natural gas company of Dallas, Comstock Resources Inc., also benefited from a rise in prices. Comstock CFO Roland Burns said in an earnings call last week that “this week is like hitting the jackpot with some of these incredible prices.”