A Texas woman has filed a $1 billion class-action lawsuit against her energy provider after she says she received an electricity bill that totaled more than $9,000 despite widespread outages.
In her lawsuit, Khoury says her electricity provider, Griddy Energy, charged “exorbitant” prices earlier this month when winter storms blew through Texas, freezing power turbines and causing widespread outages.
Griddy is a service that has developed in recent years due to Texas’ deregulated energy policies. The service charges market rates for electricity, where prices fluctuate minute to minute depending on energy use, availability and demand.
ABC News reports that Griddy boasts on its website that charging market rates often saves customers money. But when the winter storms took much of the state’s power grid offline earlier this month, energy supplies plummeted and demand skyrocketed, sending prices through the roof.
According to USA Today, Griddy charged $9,000 per megawatt hour during the height of the winter storm crisis, compared to a typical rate of about $50 per megawatt hour.
The Texas Tribune reports that Griddy tried to warn customers about spiking electricity bills before the storm hit, anticipating that outages could lead to energy shortages and high prices. The company is also offering customers a deferred payment plan that can help customers pay off their balances within five months.
But according to Khoury’s attorney, those concessions aren’t enough.
“At this point we don’t know how many people might be affected, but there are likely thousands of customers who’ve received these outrageous bills,” Derek Potts, an attorney representing Khoury, said in a statement. “A class action will be the most efficient and effective way for Griddy’s customers to come together and fight this predatory pricing.”
In a statement to Reuters, Griddy called the accusations levied in the lawsuit “meritless.”
The group that operates Texas’ power grid, the Electricity Reliability Council of Texas, is also facing lawsuits. More than four million homes and businesses were without power for several days following the winter storm.