February winter snow storm caused a lot of problems for Texas residents.
High demand, tight supplies and soaring wholesale natural gas prices led to outages during the storm and big bills for many consumers as the snow melted away.
But not everybody suffered. Producers who raised wholesale prices and sold natural gas to utilities made a killing. Back in July, Bloomberg News estimated their windfall at $11 billion.
State-regulated utility companies, unprepared of the storm, might have taken a big loss. But they pass on costs to consumers, which explains the high bills some received.
But the pain isn't over for retail gas customers. On Wednesday, the Texas Railroad Commission paved the way for utilities to package $3.4 billion in debt from the storm into low-interest bonds. And guess who gets to repay those bonds?
That's right. Consumers in Texas will see higher natural gas bills for up to 30 years to retire the debt.
Big producers profit. Utilities have their debt covered. Only consumers lose.
And since the state still lacks proper regulations to ensure utilities prepare for another such crisis, to prepare for the next weather crisis, average Texans may get to bear the financial brunt over and over again.