Texans who got slammed with power bills totaling thousands of dollars after the recent severe weather "gambled on a very, very low rate" by picking power supply plans with variable charges, but they should not panic over whether they can pay those bills, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said Wednesday.
"In Texas, you can choose your energy plan and most people have a fixed rate," said Patrick on Fox News' "The Faulkner Focus." "If they had a fixed rate per kilowatt-hour, their rates won't go up. Their bill may be up because they used more energy."
But people with the big bills, some rising to five figures, had variable rates that would rise based on supply and demand with power, said Patrick.
"But I've told those folks, do not panic," he said. "We're going to figure that out."
Going forward, though, customers "need to read the fine print in those bills," said Patrick. "We may end that type of variable plan ... we'll get to the bottom of this, find out what the hell happened, and we will fix it once and for all."
The state is also enforcing a no-disconnect order at this time, so customers won't lose their power because they can't pay their high bills.
Meanwhile, many Texans lost their power because of the winter storm and record low temperatures, but Patrick said the answer to the state's power needs cannot lie on renewables like wind and solar power alone.
"You cannot count on the wind and the sun," he said. "You have to have investments in natural gas, nuclear, and in clean-burning coal."
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