By Giulia McDonnell Nieto del Rio, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs and Ivan Penn

Utility workers repair a burnt-out switch in Austin, Texas, Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021. Scores of Texans who have reported skyrocketing electric bills in the storm’s aftermath. For some whose electricity prices are not fixed and are instead tied to the fluctuating wholesale price, the spikes have been astronomical. (Tamir Kalifa/The New York Times)

SAN ANTONIO — As millions of Texans shivered in dark, cold homes over the past week while a winter storm devastated the state’s power grid and froze natural gas production, those who could still summon lights with the flick of a switch felt lucky.

Now, many of them are paying a severe price for it.

“My savings is gone,” said Scott Willoughby, a 63-year-old Army veteran who lives on Social Security payments in a Dallas suburb. He said he had nearly emptied his savings account so that he would be able to pay the $16,752 electric bill charged to his credit card — 70 times what he usually pays for all of his utilities combined. “There’s nothing I can do about it, but it’s broken me.”

Willoughby is among scores of Texans who have reported skyrocketing electric bills as the price of keeping lights on and refrigerators humming shot upward. For customers whose electricity prices are not fixed and are instead tied to the fluctuating wholesale price, the spikes have been astronomical.

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