As Texans start to see exorbitant electricity bills, the family of an 11-year-old boy who died during the Texas winter storm and the subsequent blackouts is suing the state grid operator and energy provider Entergy for $100m.
His mother, Maria Elisa Pineda, found Cristian Pavon unresponsive in their Houston-area mobile home last Tuesday, which was unheated due to the storm. As a result of the storm, at least 58 individuals have died across the US, although the number is likely to increase.
Pavon died as a consequence of hypothermia, the lawsuit claims. A cause of death has not been released by the coroner.
The case, brought by lawyer Tony Buzbee, claims criminal negligence and alleges that decisions involved in the for-profit energy system in Texas caused the death of Pavon.
Texas has its own deregulated electricity grid run by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which the conservative lawmakers of the state have long heralded as an example of market-based solutions.
This characterisation has been called into question by the strain caused by the historic winter storm.
“These decisions, which led to deaths, were made based on profit, not welfare of people. People died. ERCOT and the electrical providers like Entergy must account,” Buzbee told ABC affiliate KTRK.
“We haven’t yet reviewed the lawsuits and will respond accordingly once we do. Our thoughts are with all Texans who ‘have and are’ suffering due to this past week,” ERCOT said in a Saturday statement.