CPS Energy’s 3,000 team members live and work in this community, and so they have a deep passion for protecting and caring for Greater San Antonio, its people and its precious resources. Among them, Danielle Frerich.
She began working for the utility as an Environmental Analyst in 2018. She earned a bachelor of science degree in geology from the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), and will graduate in May from the university with a master’s in environmental science.
As we commemorate Women’s History Month and kick off a series spotlighting a few of the nearly 730 females working for our utility, we recently reached out to Danielle to learn more about her professional and personal experiences.
Us: Why environmental science?
Danielle: Growing up, I’ve always been interested in all things environmental and wanted to get into the environmental field. After earning my undergrad in geology, I decided to pursue a master’s in environmental science because I felt this would open more doors for me.
Us: What is it that you do as an Environmental Analyst?
Danielle: Within the Environmental & Planning Compliance area, I’m now in the Air Compliance group after spending about a year with the Water Quality team — so I’m relatively new to the group. We make sure the Company stays in compliance with the air rules and regulations from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and the EPA. This involves a lot of data analysis and reporting. For example, we have multiple annual reports that we must submit to the TCEQ. One of the most comprehensive is the EIQ (Emissions Inventory Questionnaire) for each generating unit and includes a breakdown of main emissions like nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxides. This involves being detail oriented and making sure all numbers and equations are input correctly into the reporting system.
I assist with renewing air permits, which is also submitted to the TCEQ. As part of this process, my team reviews past documentation and makes revisions as needed.
Another of my main duties is implementing our Company’s Ozone Action Day Plan. This includes notifying our workforce when an Ozone Action Day is planned and equipping our team members with ways they can help reduce emissions and ozone.
As I mentioned earlier, I’m fairly new to the Air Compliance group. It’s been a great experience because I like learning new things, and things are changing all the time. When the EPA comes out with a new rule or regulation, it has a trickle-down effect. It generally impacts the TCEQ and, in turn, our Company, so we’re often coming up with solutions to ensure we remain in compliance with the EPA rule or regulation. I like that challenge and being part of the team working together to find solutions.
Us: Why is this work important to CPS Energy and the San Antonio community?
Danielle: We want to make sure we’re taking care of the environment we all live in, and for future generations. This includes making sure the air we breathe here in San Antonio is clean, and that we’re following stringent TCEQ and EPA guidelines. Our Environmental team continually assesses and monitors emissions so that we’re not exceeding any of our permit limits.
While we’ve made significant reductions in our emissions over the years, we’re going to continue our path to lower emissions so that we’re protecting the environment and doing the right thing. As we head down this path, we’re looking to expand our portfolio of clean energy sources and we’re seeing what new innovative technologies are available.
Us: Everyone has been impacted by the pandemic. How has it impacted you?
Danielle: The main impact has been the transition to working from home since March of last year. Of course, with working from home there can be distractions and not seeing coworkers or other people can get old, but I’ve managed to stay positive and focused by setting small daily goals.
On occasion, I do visit our power plants. Last week, I was at Braunig to accompany TCEQ inspectors who were onsite to do a routine air inspection. During these inspections, we escort them in the plants so they can conduct a visual check of the units and we provide them with plant documentation to review, which normally includes records for the last two or three years of operations.
Us: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received and what advice do you have for others?
Danielle: I remember one day in the cafeteria, Wayne Piper, who retired earlier this year, told me to never let anyone take my smile away from me. That stuck with me.
I would tell others to make sure you’re balancing your career with your personal life. Since starting my career, I feel this helps me to keep a fresh mind when on the work clock. Also, I would remind others to never give up, no matter what gets thrown your way. Anything is possible.
Us: What are some things you like to do when you’re off the clock?
Danielle: I’m a regular at the gym and love to go hiking at state parks and be outdoors as much as I can. Most people don’t know this but I also like to fish with my dad.
Us: In 3 words or less, how would you describe yourself?
Danielle: Dedicated, motivated, consistent.
Us: Ending with a fun question, what’s your favorite movie?
Danielle: A Christmas Story is a must watch for me every year.
We thank Danielle for taking time to share her story and for the vital work she does for our Company. We also appreciate all the other women who work for our Company, serving in all sorts of capacities – from energy advisors to crew foremen, engineers to EIT developers, managers to CEO, and the list goes on. Thank you for the valuable work you do, and the talent and expertise you bring to the table!