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Skyrocketing electric bills are "top priority" for lawmakers, Texas governor says in wake of deadly storm

Texans still struggling after storm
Texans still without safe drinking water after devastating winter storm 02:20

Texas Governor Greg Abbott said Sunday that dealing with residents' skyrocketing electric bills is the "top priority" for the state Legislature, and he said there will be a moratorium on customer disconnects for nonpayment. As the power went out amid deadly frigid temperatures, Texans who did not have a fixed electric plan had their bills spike due to market costs, with some reporting their bills totaling in the tens of thousands. 

Abbott and the Legislature held an emergency meeting Saturday to find ways to "shield" residents from the skyrocketing bills. "Texans who suffered through days of freezing cold without power should not be subjected to skyrocketing energy bills due to a spike in the energy market," Abbott said Sunday.

There are about 30,000 Texans who did not have power as of Sunday afternoon. Abbott said he expected power to be restored throughout the state by Sunday evening.

In addition to the crisis of skyrocketing electric bills, Texas is also facing two other immediate crises: food shortages and lack of access to clean water. Abbott said Sunday that he is suspending regulations on trucking to get drivers on the road to deliver food to grocery stores quickly. He also suspended regulations on kitchens to prepare food as long as they comply with state health guidelines.

Texas governor promises to address skyrocketing energy bills 20:05

Abbott also said the state will be distributing "Meals Ready to Eat," or MREs, and he requested a USDA disaster declaration to help distribute food.

The Texas Department of Environmental Quality said boil water notices have been lifted for about 5 million Texans on Sunday, including in Houston and most of San Antonio, two of the state's largest cities. Two days ago, 14.9 million Texans were under boil water notices.

Abbott is also brining in plumbers as residents try to deal with broken pipes. He urged anyone with issues to call for a plumber as soon as possible, as well as call the insurance companies.

In addition to the triple immediate crises, Abbott said that from now on, Texas will winterize all sources of energy. 

"We should never run short of power again," Abbott said. "Texas is the energy state, we need to make sure that we translate that into power generation to make sure the power stays on."

On Saturday, President Biden issued a major disaster declaration, making 77 of Texas' 254 counties eligible for federal funding to help with recovery efforts.

Temperatures plunged throughout the state last week, leading to a spike in energy usage that caused the power grid to shut down. At least 30 deaths have been attributed to the storm in Texas, including a grandmother and three elementary school-aged children who died in a house fire in suburban Houston.

Warmer temperatures over the weekend caused snow to melt.

Houston mayor says Texas should pay for residents' "exorbitant" energy bills 05:33
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