Surge in power prices in Texas

In a sign of tough times ahead for ratepayers, electric wholesale prices have spiked to nearly unprecedented levels this week, and regulators now warn that thousands of Texans who have been involuntarily switched to alternative power providers may end up with shockingly high bills.

The tumult in the state's deregulated power market also appears to have taken a toll on electric retailers, with two going out of business this month alone and analysts predicting more failures in the near future.

With an eye toward the upheavals, the Texas Public Utility Commission on Thursday called an emergency meeting in which commissioners warned of painfully high prices for Texans who have been involuntarily sent to default providers because their regular electric companies went belly-up.

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