After Texan natural gas companies used massive price hikes to make money during the recent deadly winter storms, federal regulators are taking a closer look at the state’s energy market.

The 10,000% increase has attracted the attention of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and Congress, CNN reports.

As Texas spent days under snow, wind and freezing temperatures, natural gas companies found themselves in a market defined by scarcity. Infrastructure failures had also crippled production and distribution, opening the door for companies to charge desperate Texans hundreds of times their normal rates. 

“Our natural gas providers said if you continue to run, your cost will go from $3 per dekatherm to $300 per dekatherm because of the shortage,” Rance Miles, chief executive of the 115-farm cooperative Select Milk Producers, told the Washington Post. “Our bill would go from $3,000 per day to $300,000, and I said fine, otherwise we’ll have to dispose of that milk and lose $800,000 per day.”

Power supplies had returned in Texas but tens of thousands of homes were still without electricity as crews struggled to repair downed lines Power supplies had returned in Texas but tens of thousands of homes were still without electricity as crews struggled to repair downed lines Photo: AFP / Thomas Shea

Sen. Tina Smith, D-Minn., called for an investigation, expressing concern that the costs would be passed from utility companies to ordinary consumers.

"These drastic price increases are forcing utilities and other natural gas users to incur exorbitant costs, much of which could be passed along to consumers in the form of higher electric or natural gas bills over the next year," Smith wrote.

One man has already received a $7,000 bill. Federal regulators are already moving to grant Smith’s request, with the FERC announcing Monday it would consider a probe.

“[The Division of Analytics and Surveillance] closely identifies and scrutinizes any potentially anticompetitive or manipulative behavior to determine if an investigation is appropriate,” wrote Mary O’Driscoll, the FERC’s Acting Director of External Affairs.

"We are monitoring irregularities in the Texas energy markets following last week's freeze," Rostin Behnam, acting chair of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, said Tuesday.

At least 80 people lost their lives during the emergency, a number likely to increase as investigations continue.