In mid-February, a brutal winter storm swept across Texas and overwhelmed the state’s power grid, knocking out electricity and water to millions for days.
A sudden jump in energy prices hammered utilities, and some customers faced power bills in the thousands of dollars. More than 100 people reportedly died.
The public vented its anger — primarily at executives and lawmakers — and amid that kind of public outcry, it’s easy to see why some companies who may have benefited from the crisis were happy to keep that information under wraps.
Some 12 weeks later, however, the details are beginning to seep out.
Reuters, citing recent earnings reports and interviews, reports that natural gas suppliers, pipeline operators and banks that trade energy commodities took in billions as Texans froze.
Energy Transfer, a major gas supplier based in Dallas, is expected to see $850 million or more in profits from sales to Texas utilities and industrial customers during the crisis. Another supplier, Enterprise Products Partners, reported taking in about $250 million as a result of the storm.
Kinder Morgan, a Houston gas storage and pipeline operator, said it dispatched workers and backup power to its operations ahead of the storm — and earned some $1 billion as a result.
Bank of America and GoldmanSachs also reportedly made a fortune trading energy commodities, but the report noted that those large banks are also likely on the hook for money owed by power companies that later declared bankruptcy.
It’s also far from clear how much money those companies will ultimately see — utilities and oil and gas producers are already in court over the storm and its fallout, Reuters notes, and federal energy regulators are investigating potential market manipulation.