NBC 5 Responds

Expert Answers to Questions About High Electric Bills After Winter Storm

NBCUniversal, Inc.

Weeks after the February winter storm, NBC 5 Responds continues to hear from North Texans trying to chip away at hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars in utility charges.

We took some of the most frequently asked questions to attorney Keegan Warren-Clem, managing attorney at the nonprofit Texas Legal Services Center.

Currently, there is not state-wide utility assistance relief fund for consumers who received high bills because of the winter storm disaster. However, Warren-Clem says if you can’t pay, there may be other options.

“The first thing to do is to let your utility company know. You need to make sure you are opening that dialog with the utility company, that you're asking about what bill payment assistance programs exist and whether you can defer payment, whether you can get on a payment plan that would reduce the monthly amount and allow you to catch up over time,” said Warren-Clem.

Ask about other programs that could help.

“Perhaps there are repairs you need to make that would make you eligible for weatherization assistance. There may be workarounds through other programs and your utility company actually is required to provide that information,” explained Warren-Clem.

During the winter storm, NBC 5 Responds heard from former Griddy customers who shared electric charges that ranged from a few hundred dollars to nearly $18,000.

Now that Griddy has filed for bankruptcy protection, Warren-Clem said consumers should file a claim and watch for new developments in the bankruptcy proceedings.

“The biggest thing is: always keep your receipts. I think equally important is to follow Griddy's website. They are using a particular company to help provide information to former consumers. They're targeting, in particular, people who were affected or who were consumers between February 11 and February 19,” said Warren-Clem.

Griddy published a notice on its website asking customers to open and read emails from Griddy Energy on behalf of noreply@strett.com. Former customers who believe they have a claim are asked to follow instructions emailed to them.

Former customers have until 5 p.m. on July 19 to file a claim. Warren-Clem said it’s still unclear what former customers would be entitled to.

“It's too early, I think, to make any definitive statements. What is going to be important is filing that claim before the deadline arrives because otherwise your claim can be barred,” said Warren-Clem.

For former customers who still have outstanding balances with Griddy, Warren-Clem explains Griddy has proposed releasing former customers from that debt if they agree not to sue Griddy.

“It is a one-for-one release,” said Warren-Clem.

The court still has to sign off on the proposal.

Warren-Clem explained Griddy has said it intends to calculate final balances by late April. Warren-Clem expects consumers will have a clearer picture of their options once the court reviews the plan.

And if you’re a utility customer with questions about the usage on your bill, Warren-Clem says you should be able to get your utility to check its readings.

“The PUC actually requires that utility companies, the regulated ones, have a process for questions and complaints. And so that may vary from provider to provider, but when in doubt, you always just want to pick up the phone and ask,” said Warren-Clem.

NBC 5 Responds is committed to researching your concerns and recovering your money. Our goal is to get you answers and, if possible, solutions and a resolution. Call us at 844-5RESPND (844-573-7763) or fill out our customer complaint form.

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