CPS ENERGY FILES LAWSUITS AGAINST GAS SUPPLIERS TO PROTECT CUSTOMERS FROM EXCESSIVE AND EXORBITANT PRICES
(SAN ANTONIO) – March 23, 2021 – CPS Energy has filed lawsuits in Bexar County District Court against many of its natural gas suppliers challenging the exorbitant natural gas charges during the February winter storm.
“The lawsuits are designed to ensure that San Antonio residents get fair treatment instead of price gouging and gross overcharging by natural gas suppliers during last month’s weather emergency,” said San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg. “We will not tolerate suppliers hitting the jackpot by exploiting average customers.”
“We filed the suits to protect our customers from unlawful, excessive, and exorbitant prices charged by certain natural gas suppliers during a state and federally declared disaster,” said Paula Gold-Williams, President & CEO of CPS Energy. “Imagine going to the gasoline pump during a natural disaster and seeing the price of a gallon of gas at about $348 or about $7,000 for a full tank. That is essentially what happened with natural gas prices during the storm. On behalf of our customers, we cannot, and we will not stand for that. What is worse, certain suppliers have already discontinued gas supply, which is a hardball tactic in the extreme.”
State laws protect the people of Texas from unconscionable behavior and price gouging during a declared state of natural disaster, which Governor Abbott declared on February 12, 2021. During this time, certain natural gas suppliers charged CPS Energy up to 15,000% more for natural gas supply, which is the equivalent of buying N95 masks before the pandemic for $3 each and selling them during it for nearly $462 each.
This unlawful and unconscionable price gouging occurred during a critical time in Texas where 52% of the electricity generated is from natural gas, and during a time when people were at their most vulnerable. One Texas natural gas producer, Comstock Resources, stated that the natural gas prices they were able to charge during the winter storm were “…like hitting the jackpot…”.
As always, CPS Energy will pay the lawful amounts due to its natural gas suppliers under its gas contracts, but will defend its customers from charges in excess of those lawful amounts that constitute unconscionable and unlawful price gouging.
CPS Energy is asking the Court to take the following actions to prevent harm to the utility and its customers. Among other things, CPS Energy petitioned the Court:
- To declare that any excessive charges are unlawful; and
- In some cases, to grant a temporary restraining order and temporary injunction to prevent the gas suppliers from wrongfully declaring a default under the gas contracts.
When available, a copy of the filings can be found on the company’s website. CPS Energy will provide relevant updates, as major developments occur.
Previous updates about how CPS Energy is working to protect customers can be found here:
CPS Energy and the Texas Electric Market
About CPS Energy
Established in 1860, CPS Energy is the nation’s largest public power, natural gas, and electric company, providing safe, reliable, and competitively-priced service to 860,934 electric and 358,495 natural gas customers in San Antonio and portions of seven adjoining counties. Our customers’ combined energy bills rank among the lowest of the nation’s 20 largest cities – while generating $8 billion in revenue for the City of San Antonio for more than seven decades. As a trusted and strong community partner, we continuously focus on job creation, economic development, and educational investment. True to our People First philosophy, we are powered by our skilled workforce, whose commitment to the community is demonstrated through our employees’ volunteerism in giving back to our city and programs aimed at bringing value to our customers. CPS Energy is among the top public power wind energy buyers in the nation and number one in Texas for solar generation.