The San Antonio City Council approved CPS Energy’s request for a 4.25 percent rate increase Thursday morning after acknowledging the utility’s thorough outreach efforts and listening to the community’s concerns.
“CPS Energy has done its job,” said Mayor Julian Castro, as he asked council members to join him supporting the increase. “It has been responsive to concerns over its bonus program, reducing it very significantly, and increasing its affordability programs.
“It’s not a popular thing,” he acknowledged, “but it’s the necessary and prudent thing to do.”
The increase will take effect on Feb. 1, and will increase the average bill by a little less than $5.
After the vote, CPS Energy CEO Doyle Beneby said it was gratifying how many people participated in the process, whether by attending meetings, communicating through social media or leaving questions on the utility’s blog.
In addition to many one-on-one meetings with council members, CPS Energy employees spoke to more than 2,000 customers, he said, hosted more than a dozen customer care fairs and attended many more community events, met with all its suburban city customers, large commercial customers, chambers of commerce and Joint Base San Antonio, all in an effort to communicate the need for the increase.
“Our company and community have benefited from all of these discussions,” he said in a note to employees after the vote.
“Even though the three-month effort of asking for an increase is over, the work to deliver on our commitments to the community continues,” he continued. “We are never done ensuring that our bills remain among the lowest in the nation, and we are always looking to improve the services we provide.”
Several council members thanked CPS Energy for beefing up its affordability programs, which help low-income customers pay their bills, and asked for further reassurance that the utility would also increase its outreach efforts to make sure that every resident who qualifies gets the help they need.
Beneby said CPS Energy is committed to work consistently with the City Council to work on affordability, and said the company would also look into partnering with existing programs already connected to the city’s low-income population.