Griddy Update: Why energy prices were sky high this week
At Griddy, transparency has always been our goal. We know you are angry and so are we. Pissed, in fact. Here’s what’s been going down:
On Monday evening the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) cited its “complete authority over ERCOT” to direct that ERCOT set pricing at $9/kWh until the grid could manage the outage situation after being ravaged by the freezing winter storm.
Under ERCOT's market rules, such a pricing scenario is only enforced when available generation is about to run out (they usually leave a cushion of around 1,000 MW). This is the energy market that Griddy was designed for – one that allows consumers the ability to plan their usage based on the highs and lows of wholesale energy and shift their usage to the cheapest time periods.
However, the PUCT changed the rules on Monday.
As of today (Thursday), 99% of homes have their power restored and available generation was well above the 1,000 MW cushion. Yet, the PUCT left the directive in place and continued to force prices to $9/kWh, approximately 300x higher than the normal wholesale price. For a home that uses 2,000 kWh per month, prices at $9/kWh work out to over $640 per day in energy charges. By comparison, that same household would typically pay $2 per day.
See (below) the difference between the price set by the market's supply-and-demand conditions and the price set by the PUCT's “complete authority over ERCOT.” The PUCT used their authority to ensure a $9/kWh price for generation when the market's true supply and demand conditions called for far less. Why?
The CEO of a fellow innovative retailer shared his distress with the PUCT here. “Customers blame ERCOT, PUC, TDSPs, and retailers. The one entity that they don’t blame are the generators because they don’t have a face to the customer but they make all the money in these types of events. If you follow the money you will find that generators make all the money.”
That’s one explanation. Everyone is still trying to figure that out. But here is what we do know:
The market is supposed to set the prices, not political appointees.
And here is what we are going to do:
We intend to fight this for, and alongside, our customers for equity and accountability – to reveal why such price increases were allowed to happen as millions of Texans went without power.
More to come.