The expected price of electricity on Friday is already surging ahead of the expected winter storm. The predicted demand spike will be the biggest test for the state’s notoriously independent grid since the storm nearly one year ago that caused catastrophic failures of the gas system and grid, threw energy markets into chaos, led to widespread blackouts and food and water shortages, forced people to burn their furniture for warmth, and killed hundreds of people. Many Texas officials, including GOP Gov. Greg Abbott, falsely blamed the blackouts on renewable energy.

Brad Jones, ERCOT’s interim CEO boasted last month, “the Texas electric grid is more prepared for winter operations than ever before,” but Gov. Abbott said massive blackouts were possible in a press conference on Tuesday — directly contradicting his own promise last December that the state’s grid “will remain stable and reliable throughout the entire winter.” Beyond the obvious fears of the horrifically inequitable, and deadly, toll of last year’s blackouts, the price spike also raises the spectre of the five-figure electric bills some Texas were hit with after last year. (Bloomberg $, Utility Dive, Weather Channel, MSNBC; Climate Signals background: February 2021 polar vortex breakdown)