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Q&A: February’s freezing temperatures impact on rates and electric bills

0220
 2021
We have updated the information below to reflect the questions that we have received from our members who are concerned about high electric bills in the aftermath of February’s historically cold weather. We will continue to provide the most current information and answers that we have available. 

Q: Will Bluebonnet members see their electric bills sharply increase like customers in parts of Texas who have variable-rate plans?  

A: No, Bluebonnet’s members will NOT see electric bills for their homes increase by thousands of dollars like those widely reported in the media. Bluebonnet does not offer variable-rate plans that fluctuate with wholesale power prices, which are offered by other retail providers in the state. Bluebonnet has power supply contracts in place that are meant to protect members from price volatility in the ERCOT wholesale power market.

Q: How will the cold weather impact my electric bill?

A: The extremely cold temperatures during February’s historic cold spell caused members to use more electricity than they would during a normal February. Therefore, members should expect to see electric bills similar to ones they normally see during hot summer months, like July and August. 

However, some members may see electric consumption higher than July and August depending on their heating systems, usage and their thermostat settings. During extremely cold temperatures, heat pumps and electric heating systems use more electricity than air conditioning systems do during summer months.  Some Bluebonnet members may have higher consumption due to additional heating for water pumps, pool equipment or livestock.

Bluebonnet members can view the impact of the cold weather on their electric usage by logging into their MyBluebonnet account at bluebonnetelectric.coop.

Q: If I experienced outages during the February weather event, will I be billed for usage during those outages?

A: No, Bluebonnet’s meters only register usage that is consumed when power is available at your home or business. When power is not available to your home, Bluebonnet’s meters do not register electric consumption, thus no kilowatt hours are billed to your account during outages. This is also true for the mandated rotating outages.

Q: What will be the impact on Bluebonnet’s rates and members’ electric bills as a result of this event? 

A: Bluebonnet’s bill is divided into two categories of rates: Bluebonnet service costs and the wholesale power cost. The Bluebonnet service rate for electric distribution to your home or business will not increase because of this event. This rate makes up about half of a members’ bill. 

The other half of the bill, titled Wholesale Power cost, represents the cost of energy produced and supplied to Bluebonnet to meet the needs of your home or business. Your current bill will not reflect an increase to the Wholesale Power Cost rate. 

Every electric generation company in the ERCOT market will likely feel the impact of increased natural gas and wholesale power prices, but the extent is yet to be determined. 

However, Bluebonnet’s wholesale power providers are financially sound. It will likely be several months before it is known what the ultimate impact of this event will be for the LCRA and Bluebonnet’s members.

Q: Will other utilities’ bankruptcies have an impact on Bluebonnet and its members? 

A: It is too early to say how these bankruptcies may affect the market, and thereby Bluebonnet.  However, Bluebonnet does not have wholesale power contracts with any of the utilities that have filed for bankruptcy, so they should not have a direct impact on Bluebonnet. 

Q: What is Bluebonnet doing for members who need help with their electric bills? 

A: We know the prolonged extremely cold temperatures resulted in higher-than-expected electric bills. Bluebonnet has temporarily suspended late fees and disconnections for non-payment to assist our members with additional time to pay their bill. We are here to help members who need assistance with their electric bills. Get more information at bluebonnet.coop/assistance or talk with Bluebonnet’s Member Services at 800-842-7708, Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. 

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