Imagine pulling your car into a gas station hoping to escape a life or death crisis, only to learn you'll need $7,000 to fill-up your tank.
That's essentially the allegation made in a major lawsuit by San Antonio's city owned electric utility, CPS Energy, against both Houston Pipeline and Oasis Pipeline.
CPS claims the two natural gas suppliers jacked up their prices 15,000% when the polar vortex slammed into the Lone Star State.
With the safety of hundreds of thousands of rate payers dependent on the flow of natural gas, CPS Energy agreed to pay the inflated cost to preserve lives.
In its lawsuit, the taxpayer-owned utility is asking the court to cancel the $257 million bill and punish the two pipeline companies for "price gouging" in a disaster.
"Not only should a 15,000% increase during the course of an emergency declared by the Governor get the attention of a jury in civil damages, it should get the attention of the attorney general and other law enforcement authorities who should take action on that because it is illegal under Texas law to take advantage of consumers during a natural disaster," said Fox 26 Legal Analyst Chris Tritico.
The lawsuit cites public comments by the CEO of the parent company of the pipelines in which he boasts of doing "exceptionally well" during the winter storm.
Energy Transfer LP declined FOX 26's request for comment.
Last week, the San Antonio City Council approved $500 million in emergency financing to keep its utility afloat. CPS Energy reportedly sustained losses approaching $1 billion during the crisis.