Months later, the Texas blackout continues to wreak havoc on the finances of states as far-flung as Minnesota.
From the Seattle Times:
With its ill-equipped natural gas systems clocked by the cold, Texas’s exports across the Rio Grande froze up and 4.7 million customers in northern Mexico went without electricity – more than in Texas itself. The spot price of gas jumped 30-fold as far west as Southern California. And all the way up by the Canadian border, gas utilities in Minnesota that turned to the daily spot market to meet demand say they had to pay about $800 million more than planned over the course of just five days as the Texas freeze-up pinched off supplies.
The Texas market is so large – second only to California’s – and its natural gas industry is so predominant that when things go wrong there, the impacts can be felt across the country. And in a state that eschews regulation, driving energy producers to cut costs as deeply as they can to remain competitive, things went spectacularly wrong the week of Valentine’s Day.
Minnesota’s biggest gas companies are putting forward plans to recoup their expenses by adding a surcharge to customers’ bills, which the state utility commission would first have to approve. Normally, such adjustments to account for winter prices go into effect in September, but Minnesota’s biggest gas utility, Houston-based CenterPoint Energy, says the financial pinch is so great it wants to start billing customers next month – and charging them nearly 9% interest until the extraordinary costs are paid off.