Texas official gives update on power emergency, outrageous power bills

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins speaks out about how state leaders and power regulators didn't do their jobs to winterize equipment prior to this week's storm.
5:40 | 02/22/21

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Transcript for Texas official gives update on power emergency, outrageous power bills
Texans. I want to bring in now the chief elected official of Dallas county, Texas, judge clay Jenkins. Judge Jenkins, thank you for being here. Just give us the update, how are the folks there in your surrounding area kind of doing now? We know water was a big deal, electricity, power is a big deal and it looks like most of that has come back on. How you are doing? They're exhausted, but they're very resilient. They're now beginning to see these exorbitant energy bills due to the fact that the governor's team didn't put any sort of consumer protection on the high end of the variable rates so people were getting 10 and 15 and even $20,000 electric bills, to heat a small home. This in the face of days without any power in those homes. So we're calling on the governor to fix it. They broke it. They need to fix it. Our residents do not need to pay these prices. This should have been set up like an adjustable rate mortgage so you could not see your prices go up 10,000% in one month. That is certainly adding insult to injury. And judge, I know as of last week, speaking of the governor, you had not heard from him. Has that changed? And if not, why do you think that is? Well, we heard from the governor's team three days after we were without power, and unfortunately, all we heard from them is that they were going to cut our vaccine supply in half, even though Texas is getting more vaccines this week than any other week, and they were going to send those to other parts of the state. And that's adding insult to injury to our people. Governor, don't mess with north Texas vaccines. We need those vaccines. I've got people who are above 75 years old who are very sick, who have been waiting for months to get their vaccine, and we need you to send us the vaccine, so we can get that into people's arms and help them to get past this, you know, covid pandemic. Judge, I want to make sure I'm hearing you right. You didn't hear from the governor's office about the help you need for the storm and what you folks are going through? You heard from him to say we're cutting your vaccine supply and that was a matter of what they didn't think you could use it anyway, because of the power issue, and things going on? That is what you heard from the governor's office? We have an ample ability to get vaccines and put it in people's arms. In fact, I have a department of defense team on the ground this morning, not to mention doctors and pharmacists all over Texas giving shots and 80 vaccinators yesterday for a drive-through and did nearly 4,000 shots. Would have plenty enough capacity to get rid of the vaccine. But the governor has moved our vaccine, only our vaccine, only north Texas, no other place but north Texas, as he shifted vaccine to other parts of the state. And so we just need that to stop. We've got enough bad news from the governor's office this week, and we don't need any more. Our people need their vaccine. And judge, I want to -- I know you've touched on this. Talking about these sky high electric bills for your constituents, for the people there in north Texas. Give us a sense of what they're dealing with, and what relief you hope you can bring to them, what can be done about these insane bills that your consumers are getting and receiving in the mail. Well, first thing is they need to investigate these predatory companies and see if they followed every aspect of the predatory pricing scheme that the governor's team put into place by not having any consumer protections. Perhaps they didn't and perhaps we can get relief there. If not, I think it is up to the governor from the rainy day fund to pay these bills because the people do not knowingly gamble their entire future on an electric bill, and so these people were taken advantage of by a scheme that the governor's team set up. This is not a surprise. This whole thing was predictable. Consumer advocates have been saying for years we need consumer protection. Engineers have been saying for years -- and I addressed the legislature two years ago -- saying we need to modernize the gas pipeline system or it will break in the ground. We've told them for years and there's reports from both the federal and state governments ten years ago, when this happened the last time, you've got to modernize those generator plants. So Texans have suffered enough and the government needs to fix this. And they need to find money to fix it, and not take it out of the individual pockets of Texans who cannot afford a 10 or $20,000 electric bill. To your point, hope that's taken care of, sir. Some of the bills we have seen it's just impossible that folks there in Texas are suffering the way they are and then to have that come on top of it. Judge, we hope we can check in with you. I don't think this is an issue going away. There's some healing that needs to be done. There is some accountability and investigations that need to happen down the road. We hope we can see you again. Thank you. That's Dallas county Texas judge clay Jenkins. You said that, insult to Jenkins, some of these bills we've seen. Insane. It is really something that is not even possible or probable that anyone would be able to pay, especially during these

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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