Re: “Some Texans got electric bills up to $17,000 after storm” (Feb. 22, Page A2):

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Hundreds of vehicles are staged in a parking lot as people wait in line at a food and water distribution site Monday in Houston. Many residents lack water at home because of broken pipes. David J. Phillip/Associated Press

Most U.S. electricity customers pay much higher rates than Texans do because we have a system that is backed up by regulatory oversight. Power plants that are not often run are kept in the grid as emergency backup should our system need it, and they are paid for doing this. Yes, it is an expense, but it provides reliability when it is needed, such as during weather emergencies.

In the Washington Post article that you published, Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, said he hoped federal assistance would be available to help Texans with the very high electric bills some received. Apparently Texans, who set up their unregulated electric grid without any backup, would like the rest of us to pay the bill that resulted because they sacrificed reliability to get lower rates. I am sympathetic to the conditions they are facing, but not to their expectation that the federal government (meaning the taxpayers, all of whom, except them, belong to the more reliable U.S. grid) will pay the bills they incurred.

A loan to Texas to help people out of this big mess? Yes, with the absolute expectation it will be repaid. A handout to alleviate the mess they created? No. If they want to remain independent of the kind of oversight all other states have, which comes at a price, they need to figure out how to do that without expecting others to pay their bills when it doesn’t work out well for them.

Bonnie Dunn
South Portland

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