HOUSTON - The financial bite of the deep Texas freeze continues to unfold in excruciating fashion and the pain is beginning to trickle down on taxpayers.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner reported Wednesday the astronomical price of energy charged through a variable rate plan cost the city $3.2 million just to power street lights during the four worst days of the storm.
"This street light estimate represents a 2,956% increase compared to February of last year's electricity cost, which totaled $104,726," said Turner.
And it wasn't just street lights, Mayor Turner says Houston taxpayers also took a major haircut on the cost of natural gas the City was forced to purchase under heavy duress.
"The February 2021 natural gas costs is estimated to be $2.4 million, which represents a 435% increase compared to February of last year, which totaled $453,000 dollars," reported Turner.
During later testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the punishing local expense triggered by what experts have deemed a "self-inflicted" disaster, prompted Mayor Turner to point a finger of blame squarely at Republican Leadership in Austin.
"These were not rolling blackouts. These were power outages that lasted for three to four days. You cannot prepare for this sort of winter storm in five days. The state of Texas failed to do it over 10 years," said Turner.
While the City of Houston will have close to $6 million, which could have been spent on parks, potholes or police, the winter storm tab pales in comparison to San Antonio where taxpayers are reportedly on the hook for nearly $1 billion in costs incurred by the city owner utility.
A City of Houston spokesperson told FOX 26 the street light contract was the only variable rate plan engaged by the City of Houston, with all other municipal power coming from fixed rate deals with providers of renewable energy.