Texas energy consumers to pay price of winter storm

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Texas residents suffering from a winter storm that left millions without electricity are poised to face a future challenge in higher bills after the days-long cold spurt put a strain on the state’s power grid.

About 2.7 million households in Texas, the largest electricity-consuming state in the United States, were out of heat on Wednesday as freezing temperatures in a normally temperate part of the country overwhelmed demand, causing blackouts and widespread anger.

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Wholesale electricity prices have gone up more than 300 times, sparking memories of the price spikes that accompanied the 2000-2001 California energy crisis, when Enron and others artificially raised prices.

Consumers won’t be forced to shell out thousands of dollars when their next bill expires, analysts say, but utilities are likely to hike their bills later this year, both to pay for record spikes in prices and to fund upgrades to the Texas net to make it more durable.

Texas operates an independent closed network from the rest of the country. Wednesday, electricity prices in …

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