Editor’s note: This story was published through a partnership between KSAT and the San Antonio Business Journal.
CPS Energy was ranked 12th out of 12 utilities serving residential customers in the South-Large region according to the J.D. Power 2021 Electric Utility Residential Customer Satisfaction Study released this month.
John Hazen, managing director of utility practice for J.D. Power, said the survey was taken by residential customers of utilities with more than 100,000 customers around the country, divided by region and size. CPS Energy received a score of 723 from 800 survey participants on a scale of 1,000 points. The national average was 748.
CPS Energy is a part of the South-Large category, which includes companies with over 500,000 employees located across Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina and North Carolina.
Nationally and across all size categories, Hazen added, it was ranked 120th out of 145.
Among large Texas utilities who experienced Winter Storm Uri, CPS ranked eighth out of nine, in a list including Magic Valley Electric Cooperative, CoServ, Pedernales Electric, SWEPCO, Xcel Energy-South, Entergy Texas, El Paso Electric, CPS Energy and Austin Energy, with only Austin Energy ranking beneath CPS.
Before the storm, CPS Energy was ranked third out of 12 in the South-Large category and 26th out of 143 utilities nationally in 2020. Hazen said the sharp decrease was likely due to customer dissatisfaction with its response to Winter Storm Uri, as well as the utility’s recently announced request to raise base rates to 3.85% — which San Antonio City Council is expected to vote on in January.
Hazen said customers are typically very understanding of power outages and many companies that experienced weather-related extended outages received high ratings from customers due to proactive response.
“What (customers) really slammed CPS on is lack of communication and competence handling the aftermath,” Hazen said.
CPS Energy spokesperson Christine Patmon said the utility does not participate in the J.D. Power study and receives its own customer satisfaction survey from Escalant. However, she added, the utility doesn’t expect the Escalant findings to vary much from J.D. Power’s due to mandated customer outages during Uri that were necessary to prevent a state grid blackout.
She noted that El Paso Electric, ranked just above CPS Energy, is not part of the state-managed grid and did not have to participate in load shedding or mandated customer outages during the storm.
“We understand Winter Storm Uri caused us to lose customer trust and we are working hard to ... get back to our top-tier customer ranking,” she said. “We’re one of a handful of utilities fighting for our customers against the massive transfer of wealth that occurred related to natural gas and Winter Storm Uri fuel costs, which have — for the most part — been passed on to Texas consumers.”