"I had to pay $500 a day"

The outsized financial hit is a symptom of Texas’s largely deregulated energy market, which gives customers some semblance of choice between providers, including high-risk plans linked to the volatility of the spot price for wholesale electricity.

But whether Texans are already dealing with sticker shock or have fixed-rate plans that have temporarily shielded them from those untenable costs, consumers will eventually pay the price for the state’s vulnerable power infrastructure after it collapsed under the pressure of this month’s natural disaster.

“It’s just a matter of whether it’s going to get passed on in an immediate way, in a shocking way … or spread out over time,” Kaiba White, an energy policy specialist at Public Citizen, told the Texas Tribune.

After bungling emergency management of the winter storm, Texas’s Republican leadership is now vowing to mitigate the impact of exponentially higher electricity prices, in part by issuing a moratorium on power disconnections because of non-payment.