CPS Energy: military veterans strengthen our workforce

By on April 17, 2014

CPS Energy testified Tuesday at the Senate Committee on Veteran Affairs & Military Installations about the utility’s efforts to help veterans transition into the civilian workforce.

The committee took testimony on two of its “interim charges” — that is, issues they are tasked with studying in between legislative sessions that will help inform the members and legislature as they consider future actions on a particular subject.

The Veteran Affairs committee took up two interim charges Tuesday. The first was to get feedback on the implementation of a bill passed in the last session to streamline licensing for those who have served in the military and are subsequently interested in a career in law enforcement.

The second was to study and make recommendations to strengthen and improve Texas’ efforts to ease the transition of military veterans and their spouses into the civilian workforce.

“We laid a strong foundation in the 83rd Legislature,” said state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, who chairs the committee, “but there is more work to be done.”

About 7 percent of the population in Texas are veterans, Van de Putte said, most with excellent technical training plus “soft skills,” like listening to directions, arriving on time and other vestiges of military discipline.

“But too many are still struggling to find work,” she said.

Eric Cloudt, CPS Energy’s senior director of supply chain, testified on behalf of the company, describing its growing outreach to veterans, in part through the Veterans Symposium and Expo, held for the second year in row as a way to bring veteran entrepreneurs (and those who aspire to be) together to network and gain contacts.

“Rep. Jose Menendez and CEO Doyle Beneby spoke at the last expo, which grew by 80 percent over last year,” Cloudt told the committee, which also includes state Sen. Brian Birdwell, vice chair; and state Sens. Donna Campbell, Jose Rodriguez and Wendy Davis.

About ten percent of CPS Energy’s workforce are veterans, Cloudt said, some still on active duty. He said the company’s recruiters work directly with Joint Base San Antonio and other veterans’ affairs groups to make sure CPS Energy’s job applicant pipeline always includes qualified vets.

Sen. Van de Putte noted that another CPS Energy initiative, to offer burned veterans a discount on their electric bills during the summer, is now spreading to other utilities around Texas.

The statute, before it was amended, only allowed utilities to offer discounts to the elderly and disabled, she said, “and didn’t include a category for severely burned warriors who can’t regulate their body temperature, and need a cool room to stay alive.”

Rudy Garza, CPS Energy’s vice president of external relations, said he appreciated Sen. Van de Putte allowing CPS Energy to share its efforts with the committee at the Capitol on Tuesday.

“CPS Energy understands the value our veterans bring, not just to our organization, but to the Texas workforce overall,” Garza said. “We will continue doing everything we can to help our men and women leaving the military find good, meaningful work in the civilian world and help veteran owned businesses grow.”

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