Texas energy provider to customers: Please leave us

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- While millions were without power for days during and after the historic winter storm, there were others like Savannah Thigpeen.

She said she has been doing all she can to conserve electricity, but after just two days of barely any use, she is looking at a bill over $600.

"Before I went to bed Tuesday night, I got another notification that it was a negative $453," Thigpeen said.

That was after paying nearly $200 on Monday.

Thigpeen lives alone in a one-bedroom apartment in the Spring Branch area.

In November, she switched to Griddy, a Texas wholesale electricity provider. They charge market price for customers based on their personal kilowatt usage.

She made the switch trying to save every last cent. Like so many, she is out of work because of the pandemic.

"They actually save me a lot of money. I pretty much pay 5 cents per kilowatt instead of like the 10, the 15 cents. So they let us know on Sunday morning that it could go up to $1 to $3 per kilowatt," Thigpeen said.

Since joining four months ago, Thigpeen says her bill has never been more than $50, which has helped her survive during this COVID-19 pandemic.

Texas is a free market, which means you get to choose who powers your home. Griddy's service is simple, but not without risk.

FROM 2019: $400 bill for half a month: Customers upset with energy company

In a rare move Sunday night, Griddy sent out an email to all 29,000 of its customers, urging them to switch to a different provider. Thigpeen says she tried Monday morning, but no one was taking new customers.

"Sunday night we got the email letting us know it was going up and if we could switch, to do that. But it was Sunday, and none of the places were open," Thigpeen said.

She hasn't moved her thermostat above 60 degrees Fahrenheit in her home.

"I am kind of predicting I am going to have to pay over $1,000 just for one week of electricity," Thigpeen said.

Thigpeen reached out to ABC13 on social media because she says she knows she is not the only one who is being faced with this tough situation.

Griddy told customers, for those who have it, right now they will not turn their power off if they have an unpaid bill. Thigpeen said for now all she can do is wait and see. She is hoping some of her bill will be forgiven or that Griddy will provide a payment plan. She's not even sure switching to a new provider at this point would make financial sense. She says she will have to pay to set up a new service and any additional fees, plus the increased monthly amount, would only add to her debt.

We reached out to a few providers here in Texas. They are not taking customers. Some say they may accept new customers by next Wednesday, when they say the weather has improved. That was the earliest 'maybe' answer we could get.

In the future, what do you need to know when choosing a power provider?

Unless you can shoulder significant shifts in the price of energy, choose a provider with whom you can lock in a rate for a period of time.

SEE ALSO: ERCOT says outages could have lasted months if decision not made at storm's start
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