San Antonio City Council approves CPS Energy rate increase 8-3

Megan Armstrong San Antonio News Leave a Comment

San Antonio City Council voted 8-3 to approve raising CPS Energy customers’ rates by 3.85 percent during the council’s A Session on Thursday, January 13. The increase, the first in eight years, supports enhancements on infrastructure resiliency, technology, growth and hiring employees. 

Starting in March, customers with an average monthly bill of $152 will pay an additional $5.10 – a $3.84 increase to the base rate, plus about $1.26 in the form of a pass-through fee. Those with higher monthly bills will pay more. The city council also voted 9-2 in favor of receiving the fuel, financing, legal, and other allowable costs related to Winter Storm Uri.

The increase would bring in $73 million in additional annual revenue, CPS Interim CEO Rudy Garza said during the city council meeting. The utility has said it plans to spend $200 million through 2026 to prepare its power plants for prolonged periods of freezing temperatures. The proposed financial plan includes a rate evaluation every two years. 

San Antonio City Council approves CPS Energy rate hike

San Antonio City Council approves CPS Energy rate hike

Thana Prasongsin/Getty Images

“I’ve mentioned it in almost every single town hall: what happened in February can happen any given day with one bad actor that finds a way into our system because we have not upgraded our system,” Garza said. “Those are real risks, and so this is a critical investment from that perspective…It is what we need to ensure financial stability in the short term.”

District 5 councilwoman Teri Castillo voted against the rate and motioned to delay the vote until January 2023. However, the motion failed after a vote among the council. Clayton Perry, D-10, and Jalen McKee-Rodriguez, D-2, also voted against the CPS Energy rate. McKee-Rodriguez said he cast his vote for the working-class families in his district. He noted he feels the responsibility to ensure the voice of his constituents is heard at the meeting. 

“Right now, we must admit the CPS Energy and the city for that matter have a long way to go to earn the trust of our community, especially our working-class families,” McKee-Rodriguez said. “…We need a more equitable rate structure where those who use more energy pay more while those residential customers who use less pay at a lower rate.” 

District 8 Councilman Manny Peláez noted many constituents might not be happy with their vote, but added he believes the increase is needed to help the utility prepare for the next mega-storm, which he said is our new normal. 

“I’m absolutely certain that we’re gonna have a lot of constituents that are unhappy with that decision, and many of them, if not most, are not going to understand why it is that we voted this way,” Peláez said. “We are certainly going to get flamed online and we’re going to be blamed for piling on to their already stressful economic reality.”

Mayor Ron Nirenberg, one of the utility’s five trustees, said no time is a good time for a rate increase but stressed it’s the right thing to do at the moment. 

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