While Texans Stressed About Energy Bills, A Top Regulator Sought To Protect Investors Who Profited From The Winter Storm
After Texas' devastating winter freeze in February, during which wholesale energy prices increased 10,000%, Texas residents weren't the only ones worried about their wallets.
A leaked call has revealed that in the storm's aftermath, one of the state's top energy regulators was more concerned about protecting the profits of out-of-state investors who benefitted from the spike in power prices during the storm than mitigating the financial blow to Texas utilities and their customers.
Texas Monthly obtained a 48-minute recording of a private call in which Arthur D’Andrea, now former chair of the Texas Public Utility Commission, promised to use "the weight of the commission" to keep billions of dollars made from electricity trades in investors' pockets, instead of returning it to utilities who were forced to pay sky-high prices for power, per PUC mandate, even after the market stabilized.
What does this mean for millions of Texas residential and commercial energy consumers, many of whom are still grappling with huge bills?
Were power prices artificially inflated during the storm? Will utility companies be able to recoup any of their costs?
How will state leadership and lawmakers handle the situation? Will the PUC be able to regain Texans' trust and confidence?
What checks are there on the cost of energy in a weather crisis? What can be done to make sure this doesn't happen again in the future?
Guest: Loren Steffy, writer-at-large for Texas Monthly
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*This interview was recorded on Thursday, March 18.