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Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick Blames Constituents for Giant Electric Bills: 

“Read the Fine Print” 






to Reduce Climate Change

Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick Blames Constituents for Giant Electric Bills: “Read the Fine Print”

February 25, 2021According to Patrick, people who were hit with $17,000 electric bills last week have only themselves to blame. 

Sen. Dan Patrick of Houston speaks in the Texas Senate chamber where he will take over as Lt. Governor of Texas on...
By Robert Daemmrich Photography Inc/Corbis via Getty Images.

As millions of Texans went days without heat or electricity last week, the few that somehow didn’t lose power no doubt counted themselves extremely lucky. That is, until they looked at their energy bills and saw eye-popping, five-figure numbers nearly a hundred times bigger than what they typically owed. “My savings is gone,” Scott Willoughby,a 63-year-old Army veteran who found himself on the receiving end of a $16,752 bill, told The New York Times. “It’s been 43 degrees in the house since Monday, and I still have a $5,000 bill,” Karen Cosby told the Dallas News. “How in the world can anyone pay that,” Ty Williams wondered aloud to WFAA ABC, after noting that his electric bill was more than $17,000 for the month.

Texans hit with astronomical bills—even if they did everything they could to conserve energy—have plans whose electricity prices are not fixed and instead tied to variable wholesale prices. Obviously, that means that when demand increases, their bills rise, with the goal, according to architects of the system, being to “balance the market by encouraging consumers to reduce their usage and power suppliers to create more electricity.” But when the Texas power crisis hit, the state’s Public Utilities Commission raised the cap on electricity prices to $9 per kilowatt-hour, leaving many people with completely insane bills to pay. And all of this happened because Texas, which is the only state in the contiguous U.S. not on the national power grid, and which has been under Republican control for two decades, decided to ignore a warning from federal regulators issued 10 years ago that its power plants needed to be upgraded or they would not be able to churn out electricity in extremely cold conditions—the kind the state saw last week. In other words, people like Greg Abbott and Rick Perry and Ted Cruz are the ones to blame for constituents’ gigantic bills, though if you ask Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, Texans who’ve had to deplete their life’s savings should spend less time writing angry letters to elected officials and more time taking a long, hard look in the mirror.


In an interview with Fox News, Patrick told host Harris Faulkner, “I saw the story about the high bills. Let me explain that. We have in Texas, you can choose your energy plan and most people have a fixed rate. If they had a fixed rate per kilowatt-hour, their rates aren’t going up…. But the people who are getting those big bills are people who gambled on a very, very low rate…going forward, people need to read the fine print in those kinds of bills.”Sure, Patrick added that the “folks” who received $2,000 and $3,000 and $17,000 bills should “not panic” and that the government is “going to figure that out,” but he also said that he’s going to get to the bottom of why Texas‘s power grid failed in such a spectacular fashion when, again, the state was warned a decade ago that it needed to winterize its power plants. So it doesn’t really seem like Patrick is great at figuring things out.

Patrick, who has been described by the Dallas Morning News as “the icon for exactly what’s wrong with the Republican Party in Texas,” was most recently in the news for basically trying to bribe people to report 2020 election voter fraud that never happened. Before that, he famously suggested, at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, that seniors should volunteer to die to save the economy, claiming that “lots of grandparents” were willing to sacrifice themselves for the cause.