The recent Texas storm that left millions in the dark has just claimed its first corporate victim. Brazos Electric Power Cooperative Inc. -- one of the largest generation and transmission cooperatives in Texas and one of the myriad of electricity providers caught off-guard by the storm -- has filed for bankruptcy protection.
The trickle-down effects of the storm left companies like Brazos Electric with “excessively high invoices” by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) for the “purported” cost of electric service, which ERCOT demanded payment of “within days.” According to the bankruptcy petition, Brazos Electric is disputing a claim of $1,809,469,233 from ERCOT.
“As a cooperative whose costs are passed through to its members, and which are ultimately borne by Texas retail consumers served by its Member cooperatives, Brazos Electric determined that it cannot and will not foist this catastrophic financial event on its members and those consumers.”
Throughout the financial restructuring process that comes with bankruptcy procedures, Brazos Electric says the move was an effort to protect both its cooperatives and its more than 1.5 million members from “unaffordable electric bills.”
Other storm-related lawsuits continue to mount
Just last week, a Texas woman sued the electric company Griddy after her bill was nearly $10,000 following the same winter storm. On Monday, Texas' attorney general followed up with yet another lawsuit against Griddy Energy and Griddy Holdings -- not specifically for the outrageous bills, but rather for "false, misleading, and deceptive advertising and marketing practices.”
Attorney General Ken Paxton claimed Griddy "passed skyrocketing energy costs to customers with little to no warning, resulting in consumers paying hundreds or even thousands of dollars each day for electricity.”
“Griddy misled Texans and signed them up for services which, in a time of crisis, resulted in individual Texans each losing thousands of dollars,” Paxton said. “As Texans struggled to survive this winter storm, Griddy made the suffering even worse as it debited outrageous amounts each day. As the first lawsuit filed by my office to confront the outrageous failure of power companies, I will hold Griddy accountable for their escalation of this winter storm disaster. My office will not allow Texans to be deceived or exploited by unlawful behavior and deceptive business practices.”
Paxton went on to say that one of the goals of the lawsuit was to ensure that Texas residents will receive “truthful and accurate energy service in the future.”