February 26, 2021

Tina Smith: Democratic senator calls for probe into natural gas price hikes during severe winter storms

“Whereas the worst of the disaster has been centered in Texas, the consequences have rippled throughout your entire area, together with in Minnesota,” Smith wrote within the letter, which was first reported by the Related Press. “One such ripple impact has been within the pure fuel markets, the place pure fuel spot costs have spiked, in some instances, to just about 100 occasions typical ranges.”

Smith particularly requested an investigation into the circumstances within the pure fuel market over the past week and requested that the appearing secretary of the Division of Vitality, David Huizenga, and different regulators invoke emergency measures such because the Pure Gasoline Coverage Act, which might regulate pure fuel manufacturing and transmission.

“These drastic value will increase are forcing utilities and different pure fuel customers to incur exorbitant prices, a lot of which may very well be handed alongside to customers within the type of larger electrical or pure fuel payments over the subsequent yr,” she wrote.

The letter comes as Texas struggles to recuperate from a deep freeze that killed dozens and left tens of millions with out energy. Because of the storm, some residents are actually dealing with exorbitantly excessive vitality payments. “Whereas I am attempting to get fuel and groceries and be sure that my pipes do not explode, the very last thing I am interested by is a $7,000 invoice from my utility firm,” Dallas resident DeAndre Upshaw instructed CNN’s Fredricka Whitfield on Saturday.

The excessive vitality payments have prompted a flurry of motion within the state.

Texas’ utility regulator, Public Utility Fee of Texas, mentioned Saturday it’s investigating “the elements that mixed with the devastating winter climate to disrupt the movement of energy to tens of millions of Texas houses.” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott referred to as an emergency assembly to look into the state of affairs, and Texas Rep. Michael McCaul instructed CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union” Sunday that federal emergency funds meant to assist Texans recuperate can even be used to assist some residents pay excessive vitality payments.

Smith equally requested regulators to look at monetary assist for households affected by the value hikes in Texas and past.

“Individuals should come collectively to assist one another throughout occasions of nationwide disaster, and value gouging by pure fuel suppliers is a violation of their ethical — and probably authorized — obligations,” she wrote.

“We should come collectively to offer aid the place wanted and restore truthful and equitable pure fuel markets.”

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