HOUSTON - A billion-dollar class action lawsuit against utility company, Griddy, will head back to court for another hearing next week. The lawsuit claims Griddy charged excessive rates to nearly 30,000 customers during winter storm Uri in February.
Lisa Khoury of Mont Belvieu is the lead plaintiff. She, like millions of Texans, lost power for days at a time during the freeze.
"During the storm, I was getting $150 taken out of my account every hour or so," Khoury said.
"We didn’t have any electricity right? So why is my account still being hit, hit, and hit? And when I did have electricity, I didn’t want to use it because I was afraid it was going to make me go further in the red in my checking account," Khoury said.
As a Griddy customer, Khoury says her account was linked to her checking account and was getting drained, hit with excessive charges eight different times when the electric provider decided to exponentially raise their rates.
According to court documents, a statement from December shows a 7.6-cent kilowatt hour rate, totaling just over $223 for the entire month.
However, in February, Griddy’s rate jumped to a $4-dollar kilowatt hour rate. Her total owed now roughly $10,000.
"I believe it is price gouging. The bill ended up being right at $10,800 for basically four days. And you know what? What the frustrating part about it was, I tried to change (providers) and I couldn’t. There was no one that would take me," Khoury said.
A week after the storm, on February 22, Khoury filed a lawsuit against Griddy for over a billion dollars.
The class-action now represents similar complaints from nearly 30,000 other Griddy customers across Texas, some of whom allegedly owe up to $20,000.
"We have nursing students in apartments that don’t have any extra income and now have thousand-dollar bills. We have owners of companies that got hit with $20,000 bills because they’re in a commercial building, so it's everything you can imagine. You have elderly people with fixed incomes and none of them can afford it."
"People didn’t have power so how do you switch when you can’t get online. You can’t see your account, don’t have WIFI. I mean you might have cell service, but people’s cell phones were dying because they didn’t have power. So it was an impossible situation for people to deal with," said Derek Potts, Khoury's attorney.
Potts said he hopes an injunction and a restraining order will be granted in Harris County court next Monday, to prevent Griddy from causing any more financial harm to customers.
"One, we want to make sure they preserve evidence on the case and don’t destroy any evidence. Two, that they quit debiting people’s accounts and they don’t do that any further. Three, that they don’t contact any credit reporting agencies until this is resolved," Potts said.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is also suing Griddy for misleading customers.
Griddy has been banned from participating in the Texas power market.
FOX 26 reached out to Griddy for a response, but have not heard back as of Tuesday night.