Abilene church trying to resolve $8k in electric bill overages from February freeze

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ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – An Abilene church is looking for answers on what to do about their $8,000 electricity bill overages. 

St. Paul United Methodist Church was charged a surge rate during the February freeze, and is still trying to dispute the charges.  

“A regular bill for this month would have been $1,300,” said Scot Yarbrough, director of finances and administration.  

Now they’re still searching for answers. 

“On this next one, our regular charge is about $12, they are asking for almost $60,” said Yarbrough.

The church has four electric meters, and they receive four bills, each covering a different area of the church. Their largest covers their AC refrigeration unit and their sanctuary. 

The bills in total rarely exceed $1,500, but after the Texas storm, they are being asked to pay an additional $8,000.

Electric company MidAmerican Energy Services says that they had to assign extra monies due to ERCOT charges. 

But the church is wondering, why them?  

“We don’t know any other groups that are having to pay that, but they are asking for us to do it,” said Yarbrough.

Yarbrough says it’s not that the church can’t afford to pay it, but claims they didn’t even have electricity during the storm.

“We didn’t have electricity,” said Yarbrough. “And now we’re being charged an extra $8,000 for a big part of the freeze we didn’t even have,” said Yarbrough.  

So far, they have only gotten a letter from MidAmerican telling them they are obligated to pay. 

“They haven’t called or reached out or said we’re sorry we’re having to charge this,” said Yarbrough.

Even though their contract stipulates they have a fixed price of 4 cents per kilowatt hour. 

“They had seven days that had outrageous prices, instead of our fixed price. One day it was prices at 2 dollars and 70 something cents,” said Yarbrough. 

MidAmerica said they recognizes that the church disputed the charge, but they are following ERCOT’s ancillary fee recommendation.

The church still has no resolution, and says this will only prevent them from spending $8,000 toward their ministry and helping the community. 

They’re now reaching out to the state of Texas and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). 

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