SAN ANTONIO – After months of controversy following the brutal winter storm in February, CPS Energy President and CEO Paula Gold-Williams has informed the Board of Trustees she will resign effective in early 2022.
“I am thankful to CPS Energy’s 3,000 exceptional energy experts who have never wavered in serving our customers and our entire Greater San Antonio community,” Gold-Williams said in a news release Wednesday afternoon.
Gold-Williams, who made a base salary of roughly $486,000, struggled to lead the utility through flaws exposed by the winter storm. She faced multiple internal complaints and the utility plummeted in public opinion polls.
The utility has spent millions of dollars on outside legal fees fighting hundreds of millions of dollars in unpaid bills for natural gas and power that it was forced to purchase during February’s winter blast. Court records obtained by the KSAT 12 Defenders showed that a few of those lawsuits have already been dropped by the utility.
Records showed that CPS Energy did not stock up on natural gas the way other utilities across the state did, putting them in an expensive financial bind when the price of natural gas soared. One energy expert said CPS Energy was “caught flat-footed” by the winter blast.
So far, CPS Energy has already paid roughly $450 million in bills related to the winter storm, while $585 million is still in dispute.
A Defenders investigation in September also revealed allegations that Gold-Williams repeatedly mistreated members of the utility’s senior leadership team.
A month earlier, in August, a Defenders investigation showed how CPS employees were paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in extra compensation due to call-in errors during extreme weather situations.
Her resignation comes less than a week after the resignation of Fred Bonewell, who served as Chief Operating Officer for the utility.
Bonewell submitted the resignation after a Defenders investigation revealed that Bonewell made an ethnically insensitive comment in front of four fellow employees in October 2018, which led to a formal complaint being filed against him.
Gold-Williams pledged to help the CPS Energy Board of Trustees transition as they move to find her replacement.
“The Board of Trustees thanks Ms. Gold-Williams for her dedicated tenure as President & CEO of CPS Energy,” said Board Chair Dr. Willis Mackey. “We are confident that Ms. Gold-Williams will continue to provide excellent guidance to her employees and the company as we go through this transition period. Board members are committed to a thorough search to fill this vital role. We expect to have additional information about next steps in the coming days.”
Mayor Nirenberg released the following statement regarding Gold-Williams’ resignation:
“I want to thank Paula Gold Willliams for her service to our community. I wish her the best in her future endeavors.” CPS Energy is dealing with a number of serious issues simultaneously. The next CEO must ensure that the utility successfully navigates these challenges while ensuring the organization’s stability and addressing the ratepayers’ needs. The next CEO must have the vision required to thrive in the fast-changing energy industry environment and to pursue smart energy strategies for the future.”