SAN ANTONIO – With energy consumption high this summer and the cost of fuel used to create electricity also up, Texans are seeing higher utility bills.
Pablo Calvo is paying more than $350 for his electricity bill. He was expecting a slight increase announced by CPS Energy earlier this year. But he said his bill has more than doubled in recent months despite his efforts to conserve.
“We’re pretty mindful of our energy usage, you know, between proactive measures with installation in the home keeping, you know, shades drawn and trying to keep the ambient climate, you know, as comfortable as possible,” Calvo said. “We even raised our temperature to 78 (degrees) on average on the thermostat, and even that doesn’t seem to help.”
He represents most Texans who are feeling the pinch. Ed Hirs, an energy fellow at the University of Houston, said there are a few reasons for the higher utility bills.
“The price of natural gas today is over $8 per thousand cubic feet. And last year, natural gas was around $4 or a little bit less,” he said.
The 2021 freeze has led to ERCOT charging higher prices to utilities like CPS Energy in San Antonio.
“CPS Energy, for example, has to go out and buy electricity from the ERCOT market, and it’s just become much more volatile this summer,” Hirs said.
There’s also more fuel demand due to the instability in Europe with the Russian and Ukraine war.
“As long as the conflict in Europe continues, we will see higher domestic prices. And then, of course, depending upon when that conflict ends and what the lingering sanctions and reparations might be imposed against Russia, that could keep the prices a little bit higher for those of us in the United States,” Hirs said.
He said the Texas Legislature and past and present governors also have some blame for failing to properly demand more from ERCOT and energy providers that would have put the state in a better situation with its infrastructures.
Hirs said there also appears to be no action from state leaders to improve the situation for energy customers so far. How much customers pay is in their hands.
“The first and best thing a consumer can do is to conserve. The kilowatt hour that’s not used is one that you don’t have to pay for. The gallon of gasoline or the gallon of diesel that you don’t use is one that you don’t have to pay for,” Hirs said.
When temps go up, utility bills go up! Extreme heat has been the No. 1 cause of high bills & skyrocketing natural gas prices have driven bills even higher⤵️— CPS Energy (@cpsenergy) July 26, 2022
If you're in need of payment assistance, we're here to help! Call us at 210-353-2222 or visit https://t.co/FpLUIVC9Ig. pic.twitter.com/aVB1I5bLPF