Texas Citizens, Cities Slammed with Huge Utility Bills Following Storms

February 23, 2021

Denton (Texas) Record-Chronicle:

Denton Municipal Electric since Tuesday has spent $207 million to buy electricity, and officials now have to borrow the same amount to make the company whole in a crisis they didn’t create.

“This is a situation that no one could have predicted, obviously,” said David Gaines, an assistant city manager and Denton’s chief financial officer, in a virtual Denton City Council meeting Friday morning. “Our power expenses on a single day exceeded the expenses for the entirety of last year.”

DME is the city’s electricity provider.

“The immediate concern we have is what this means to our fund,” Gaines said after the meeting.

The DME budget is about $231.4 million.

“The $207 million we spent is for buying power off the grid,” he told the Denton Record-Chronicle later. “The immediate concern is that depleted our reserves. We had $100 million fund balance in the electric fund, but we had $200 million in unexpected costs. We’ve got to make up that whole $200 million just for immediate cash flow needs.”

Council member Deb Armintor called it a “statewide financial crisis.”

“This is very serious,” she said. “And a lot of ratepayers are wondering how … this will affect them.”

Armintor pressed DME Assistant General Manager Terry Naulty for answers on whether DME customers will be impacted by increased utility rates. But Denton Mayor Gerard Hudspeth, when Armintor mentioned how Flower Mound is mitigating the effects on utility customers, told her that city staff members “have been working 20-hour days” and told her to refer questions in writing to them.

“The fund itself is going to have to recover the cost,” Gaines said. “We have to have the cash to make these payments. A lot can change from today to two months from now. State or federal aid could come. We just cannot say what the magnitude what rate changes will be at this time.”

According to city documents, the average price of energy per megawatt hour in February was $23.73. During the rotating outages that began on Monday morning, that increased to $2,400 per megawatt hour.

“Obviously, the fact of the matter is it’s huge and we need to finance it,” council member Paul Meltzer said.

One Response to “Texas Citizens, Cities Slammed with Huge Utility Bills Following Storms”

  1. rhymeswithgoalie Says:

    “This is a situation that no one could have predicted, obviously.”

    A zillion economists, climate scientists and engineers beg to differ.

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