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US Tina Smith: Democratic senator calls for probe into natural gas price hikes during severe winter storms

00:49  22 february  2021
00:49  22 february  2021 Source:   cnn.com

Senator seeks probe of natural gas price spikes during storm

  Senator seeks probe of natural gas price spikes during storm WASHINGTON (AP) — A Democratic senator is calling for federal investigations into possible price gouging of natural gas in the Midwest and other regions following severe winter storms that plunged Texas and other states into a deep freeze that caused power outages in millions of homes and businesses. Minnesota Sen. Tina Smith says natural gas spot prices spiked as high as 100 times typical levels, forcing utilities and other natural gas users to incur exorbitant costs, many of which were passed on to customers.

Democratic Sen . Tina Smith of Minnesota sent a letter to regulators Saturday calling for an investigation into possible price gouging of natural gas in Texas and other areas affected by severe winter storms this month.

Senator seeks probe of natural gas price spikes during storm . A senator is calling for federal investigations into possible price gouging of natural gas in the Midwest and other regions following severe winter Smith seeks probe of natural gas price spikes during storm . Democratic Sen .

Democratic Sen. Tina Smith of Minnesota sent a letter to regulators Saturday calling for an investigation into possible price gouging of natural gas in Texas and other areas affected by severe winter storms this month.

a group of people riding skis down a snow covered road: FORT WORTH, TX - FEBRUARY 16: Pike Electric service trucks line up after a snow storm on February 16, 2021 in Fort Worth, Texas. Winter storm Uri has brought historic cold weather and power outages to Texas as storms have swept across 26 states with a mix of freezing temperatures and precipitation. (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images) © Ron Jenkins/Getty Images FORT WORTH, TX - FEBRUARY 16: Pike Electric service trucks line up after a snow storm on February 16, 2021 in Fort Worth, Texas. Winter storm Uri has brought historic cold weather and power outages to Texas as storms have swept across 26 states with a mix of freezing temperatures and precipitation. (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)

"While the worst of the crisis has been centered in Texas, the effects have rippled across the entire region, including in Minnesota," Smith wrote in the letter, which was first reported by the Associated Press. "One such ripple effect has been in the natural gas markets, where natural gas spot prices have spiked, in some cases, to nearly 100 times typical levels."

Senator seeks probe of natural gas price spikes during storm

  Senator seeks probe of natural gas price spikes during storm WASHINGTON (AP) — A Democratic senator is calling for federal investigations into possible price gouging of natural gas in the Midwest and other regions following severe winter storms that plunged Texas and other states into a deep freeze that caused power outages in millions of homes and businesses. Minnesota Sen. Tina Smith says natural gas spot prices spiked as high as 100 times typical levels, forcing utilities and other natural gas users to incur exorbitant costs, many of which were passed on to customers.

Smith seeks probe of natural gas price spikes during storm . Minnesota Sen . Tina Smith says natural gas spot prices spiked as high as 100 times typical levels, forcing utilities and other natural gas users to incur exorbitant A Democratic senator is calling for federal investigations into possible price gouging of natural gas in the Midwest and other regions following severe winter storms that plunged Texas and other states into a deep freeze that caused power outages in million of homes and businesses.

A Democratic senator is calling for federal investigations into possible price gouging of natural gas in the Midwest and other regions following severe winter storms that plunged Texas and other states into a deep freeze that caused power outages in million of homes and businesses.David J. Phillip/APShow MoreShow Less. Minnesota Sen . Tina Smith says natural gas spot prices spiked as high as 100 times typical levels, forcing utilities and other natural gas users to incur exorbitant costs, many of which were passed on to customers. In a letter sent Saturday to federal regulators, Smith

Smith specifically requested an investigation into the conditions in the natural gas market over the last week and asked that the acting secretary of the Department of Energy, David Huizenga, and other regulators invoke emergency measures such as the Natural Gas Policy Act, which would regulate natural gas production and transmission.

"These drastic price increases are forcing utilities and other natural gas users to incur exorbitant costs, much of which could be passed along to consumers in the form of higher electric or natural gas bills over the next year," she wrote.

The letter comes as Texas struggles to recover from a deep freeze that killed dozens and left millions without power. As a result of the storm, some residents are now facing exorbitantly high energy bills. "While I'm trying to get gas and groceries and make sure that my pipes don't explode, the last thing I'm thinking about is a $7,000 bill from my utility company," Dallas resident DeAndre Upshaw told CNN's Fredricka Whitfield on Saturday.

Winter storms devastate US after a year of Covid lockdown -- and it's nowhere near over

  Winter storms devastate US after a year of Covid lockdown -- and it's nowhere near over There is no fine time for a devastating barrage of winter storms, but it's hard to imagine the weather icing over much of the United States coming at a less opportune moment. © THOMAS SHEA/AFP/Getty Images Customers wait in line to enter Frontier Fiesta on February 17, 2021 in Houston, Texas. - A winter storm has caused rolling black-outs through out the Houston and the surrounding areas for the past 48 hours.

Minnesota Sen . Tina Smith says natural gas spot prices spiked as high as 100 times typical levels, forcing utilities and other natural gas users to incur exorbitant costs, many of which were passed on to customers. In a letter sent Saturday to federal regulators, Smith said the price spikes will not just harm consumers At the same time, many gas -fired power plants in Texas and other states were knocked offline because of icy conditions, and some plants appeared to suffer fuel shortages as natural gas demand spiked nationwide. More than 70 deaths across the U.S. have been blamed on the storms .

A Democratic senator is calling for federal investigations into possible price gouging of natural gas in the Midwest and other regions following severe winter Smith seeks probe of natural gas price spikes during storm . Minnesota Sen . Tina Smith says natural gas spot prices spiked as high as 100 times typical levels, forcing utilities and other natural gas users to incur exorbitant

The high energy bills have prompted a flurry of action in the state.

Texas' utility regulator, Public Utility Commission of Texas, said Saturday it is investigating "the factors that combined with the devastating winter weather to disrupt the flow of power to millions of Texas homes." Texas Gov. Greg Abbott called an emergency meeting to look into the situation, and Texas Rep. Michael McCaul told CNN's Dana Bash on "State of the Union" Sunday that federal emergency funds meant to help Texans recover will also be used to help some residents pay high energy bills.

Smith similarly asked regulators to examine financial support for families affected by the price hikes in Texas and beyond.

"Americans must come together to support each other during times of national crisis, and price gouging by natural gas suppliers is a violation of their moral -- and potentially legal -- obligations," she wrote.

"We must come together to provide relief where needed and restore fair and equitable natural gas markets."

Energy-rich Texas suffers energy nightmare with ongoing power outages .
Even mighty Texas, the energy powerhouse of America, is feeling the wrath of Mother Nature. © Matthew Busch/Bloomberg/Getty Images Pump jacks operate in the Permian Basin in Midland, Texas, U.S, on Saturday, Feb. 13, 2021. The arctic freeze gripping the central U.S. is raising the specter of power outages in Texas and ratcheting up pressure on energy prices already trading at unprecedented levels. Photographer: Matthew Busch/Bloomberg via Getty Images A deep freeze this week in the Lone Star state, which relies on electricity to heat many homes, is causing power demand to skyrocket.

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