Emergency FAQs: Winter Storm Uri 2021
Emergency FAQs:
Winter Storm Uri 2021
Dear 4Change Energy Customers,

I know many of you are upset, confused, and angry, and we are as well. This has been an unprecedented event in Texas and everyone, including us, is trying to make the best of a terrible situation. And we haven’t been spared. Some of our employees have been without power, dealing with broken pipes, and sheltering with friends or family.

The first thing I would ask of you is to please be patient with us. We are trying to answer everyone’s calls and emails as quickly as we can, but we have been overrun with inquiries. I am hoping that this message will help answer some of your questions.

What’s been happening?
In short, the extreme cold weather significantly increased usage for Texas consumers for this week. At the same time, the weather caused many natural gas production facilities, power generation facilities, and other critical infrastructure across the state to go offline or reduce output. To prevent a more catastrophic event, ERCOT, the state’s grid operator, instructed the utilities to reduce electricity consumption on the system by instituting rotating outages for millions of customers. The amount of fuel and generation outages were significant enough that utilities prioritized preserving power to vital facilities such as hospitals and police and fire stations, resulting in many of you having power outages for extended periods of time. Some customers experienced disproportionate outages while others saw minimal to no service disruptions. That disparity has been so frustrating.

When will my power be back on?
Physical power to residences and businesses is delivered by the utilities, and the utilities turned power off as necessary under the direction of ERCOT. Retail providers like us have no control over the power outages or when power will be restored, and unfortunately, we cannot do anything to help get your power back on. One bright note is that the utilities have stated that they have ended the controlled outages across the state. The outages that remain are the result of damage to the utilities’ facilities from the winter storm. And utility field personnel are working 24/7 to restore power to remaining customers. Hopefully this will all be over soon.

I saw on the news that power prices have reached $9,000 per megawatt-hour. Will I be charged some super high rate?
No. If you are under a fixed-rate contract, your rate will not change because of this craziness. You are locked in at that rate until the plan expires. If you are on a variable rate plan, those rates will continue to adjust up or down as they normally do. We highly recommend that you enroll onto a fixed rate product to avoid the uncertainty that comes with those variable rate plans.

When it’s time for your next bill, keep in mind that cold temperatures usually lead to higher usage and higher bills. If your power was out, even for a short time, your furnace had to work overtime when power came back on to get your house back up to the desired temperature. The longer the power was out, the harder your furnace had to work -- not just warming the air in the house, but also warming the structure itself. And the extreme cold temperatures that we just experienced that caused furnaces to work harder will result in higher usage and higher bills.

Are you going to bill me for usage on the days that I had no power? My online MyAccount is showing usage on days I did not have power.
No. We will only bill you for power that you actually used. The usage data displayed in your online MyAccount and on the Smart Meter Texas portal includes some utility estimates at this point. Those estimates will be replaced with actual data as it becomes available from the utilities, usually within 3-7 days (the utility is the one who actually reads your meter). You will not be charged for usage that you did not use.

My pipes are frozen. What should I do?
Turn the water off at your main line – it may be located in your attic, garage or just outside your home. Before you turn your water back on, listen for sounds where you turned it off and if you hear any, consider keeping it shut and contacting a plumber for assistance. You can also try wrapping pipes, opening a faucet to keep a running drip, and opening cupboards under the sink so warmer air can reach your pipes.

We sincerely appreciate your patience and understanding, especially in light of these extraordinarily difficult and challenging times. Thank you for entrusting us with your business.

President, 4Change Energy