The hot mess that was last week's Arctic Blast is behind us, finally. It's a beautiful sunny day and heck-- there's talk we might even make it into the 70s later this week. Talk about a major improvement that I don't think anyone in the Panhandle could argue against right now.

That said, there's already been whispers of utility bill horror stories coming out of other areas of the state. There's reports of people receiving electric bills in sums upwards of thousands--even tens of thousands--for their power usage.

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My first question (and much likely yours, too) is: Could the same thing happen here?

Well, there's good news and bad news. Let's start with the good news... Most of the Amarillo area is serviced by Xcel, which is part of the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) and not affiliated with ERCOT.

Many of the Texas receiving these sky high bills are under a service agreement with third-party providers who have purchased electricity within a wholesale capacity and as a result, are charged the daily rate. What this means is that when costs go up, the consumer gets left holding the short end of the stick. Because the Texas Panhandle is part of SPP, rather than ERCOT, we aren't subject to this type of massive fluctuation in price--unlike the rest of the state.

Now, on to the bad news. Even providers like Xcel, who are not part of ERCOT, are subject to spikes in costs. However, because this region did not see the same kind of extremes that the southern part of Texas did, the price increases should not be as dramatic.

But wait... There's more good news...

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Governor Greg Abbot issued a moratorium over the weekend preventing power companies across the state from disconnecting service over non-payment while they sort out exactly what the hell happened last week. So, for now....the lights are gonna stay on, no matter what the bill looks like.

Oh, and if you want to, the speaker of the Texas House of Representatives Dade Phelan would love to hear from you if you had issues during the storm.

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