Via America’s Lawyer: Texans receive astronomical bills from electric companies who are gouging customers with charges reaching tens of thousands of dollars. Mike Papantonio & Farron Cousins discuss more.


*This transcript was generated by a third-party transcription software company, so please excuse any typos.

Mike Papantonio:             Texans were hit with a massive winter storm last week that knocked out the power grid and now they’re facing thousands of dollars in new power bills. Joining me to talk about this is Farron Cousins, you know, Farron, the corporations are always going to see an opportunity to take advantage of disaster, to take advantage of people suffering. And that’s what’s happening in Texas in this unregulated energy delivery system where the power grid doesn’t even work. What’s your take on this story?

Farron Cousins:                  You know, at first, when I saw these headlines and people posting the bills, I thought, okay, well obviously the company made a mistake and accidentally billed this man $17,000. But no, this is the, the energy companies intentionally did this. They price gouged consumers because obviously the demand for electricity skyrocketed and the supply was low. So they justified this and now these energy companies that are charging people $16,000, $8,000, $5,000, whatever it is, they’re saying pay up or we’re cutting your power. So this is not a mistake and this is not something the power companies are willing to forgive. They’re saying, give us $10,000 for one month of electricity or you’re off the grid.

Mike Papantonio:             Well, in a, in a capital, a real capitalism free for all in an unregulated setting, you always see these hyenas. I mean these bottom feeders, corporate, bottom feeders coming out to squeeze every dime they can out of this, most of the time, it’s the suffering consumer. That’s certainly the situation in this one. Man was charged $17,000 as you point out in these, some of these, these, these costs. But if you go back to the beginning of it, it’s Abbott, okay. Abbott, governor Abbott said, well, we want to un, no regulation here where it comes to, to power source delivery. You can choose whatever company you want and that’s great until there’s a wholesale power problem like we have here. Right?

Farron Cousins:                  Right. Absolutely. And, you know, that’s, Texans are very unique in that and they can actually choose, well, I’ll get my electricity from company A instead of company B, but also they have these agreements, I guess, where they do pay what they call wholesale prices. And typically, it’s, it’s a pretty good rate. Unless of course there’s a disaster, like a snow storm, or even a hurricane, which Texas is no stranger to, then you pay out the wazoo because the companies say, well, the wholesale rate now is suddenly, you know, $500 per kilowatt hour or whatever they want to say it is because there’s no regulation saying they can’t say what it is. Just make it up out of thin air.

Mike Papantonio:             Ugly, ugly part of this story is state leadership, legislators, the people in regulatory, it looks like a scene out of Beavis and Butthead. It looks like these Beavis and Butthead quality leaders are in charge. They don’t know what to do. They’re saying, oh my God, maybe we got it wrong on the deregulation. Maybe there should be some oversight by the government, because if a man’s paying $17,000 for one week, understand it’s really a loss of one week. I don’t care how much he saves the rest of the year, it’s a really bad deal. So maybe they need to take another look at this. I doubt they will because corporations control, in Texas corporations control everything from regulatory, all the way to the Supreme Court of the state. The worst Supreme Court in the United States is right there in Texas.

Farron Cousins:                  Well, and this is a story, these people are going to be fighting these bills probably in lawsuits for years to come. This is not something that gets resolved by the end of the month, or probably even by the end of this year, there’s going to be the price gouging lawsuits and, you know, we’ll, we’ll talk about those when they happen. But these people are in for a world of legal fights with these companies.

Mike Papantonio:             A world of hurt.

Mike Papantonio is an American attorney and television and radio talk show host. He is past president of The National Trial Lawyers, the most prestigious trial lawyer association in America; and is one of the few living attorneys inducted into the Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame. He hosts the international television show "America's Lawyer"; and co-hosts Ring of Fire Radio, a nationally syndicated weekly radio program, with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Sam Seder.