The pipes in her home burst, and the water was out for four days, but it turned out that it wasn’t the worst thing that happened to Akilah Scott-Amos during the Texan cold snap. While she was lucky enough to suffer only a brief power outage, the $11,000 electricity bill that she received exceeded all her wildest expectations.
The woman was charged that much because she is serviced by a wholesale retailer of electricity. Such an arrangement is attractive when the market is stable – Scott-Amos usually paid around $40 or $50 during this period – but turned out to be disastrous in a time of crisis, for which the state and her electricity company “weren’t prepared.”
“I absolutely can’t afford it,” she said of the enormous bill, insisting that she had been saving as much power as possible during those difficult days.
They unfortunately put this on working and middle-class families. This is going to break a lot of people financially.
After she first told her story to the media, Scott-Amos received messages from numerous Texas families, who found themselves in a similar sorry situation.
It’s gotten to the point when people turn off their power because they can’t afford it.
The woman said that she understood that authorities prioritize help for those who suffered the most. “But the people who did have power [and] were charged 300 times more than market rate so that [companies] could make a profit” shouldn’t be abandoned, she insisted. For now, Scott-Amos and others like her don’t qualify for any government support.
“Price gouging shouldn’t be allowed during this time,” she said, referring to both the cold snap and the Covid-19 pandemic, and urged authorities to intervene, adding that “basic utilities shouldn’t cost thousands.”