Electricity has been restored across Texas and the Gulf, and the impacts of the nearly weeklong blackouts caused by the state’s failure to prepare its grid for winter weather are beginning to come into focus. Around 70 deaths, so far, have been linked to the crisis, according to the AP. The total number likely won’t be known for weeks. Customers whose power stayed on are facing a different crisis — astronomical electricity bills. Many of those, like Scott Willoughby who got a $16,752 bill, were Griddy customers who paid wholesale prices that can fluctuate wildly in times of crisis. On Sunday, the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) halted power disconnections due to non-payments.
Oil refineries, shut down by the cold, also released tons of toxic air pollutants into the atmosphere. Along with pipelines and other fossil fuel infrastructure, these facilities are spewing four times as much pollution as they were before the cold snap. (Power restored: Texas Tribune, Houston Chronicle; Deaths and death toll: AP, Texas Tribune, New York Times $; Electricity prices: New York Times $, Dallas Morning News, NBC, The Hill, The Verge, Houston Chronicle, NPR; Disconnections: CBS DFW, Texas Tribune; Pollution: Earther, Reuters)