SAN ANTONIO – CPS Energy cleared its first hurdle for another rate increase on Monday by getting the approval of its own board of trustees.
The board voted 5-0 to approve the proposed increase of 4.25% to the base rates, raising the average customer’s monthly bill by $4.45. The city-owned utility still needs the approval of the San Antonio City Council, which meets on Dec. 7.
If council members approve the increase, the new rates will take effect on Feb. 1, 2024.
This is the second time in as many years that the city-owned utility is pushing to increase its gas and electric rates. A 3.85% increase in March 2022 was the utility’s first rate increase in just over eight years, but it plans to revisit its rates more regularly.
It is already expected to come back in two years to ask for another increase, currently estimated at 5.5%.
CPS Energy expects its current rate proposal to bring in another $85 million yearly. Its plans for the money include replacing aging technology, preparing for a wave of retirements, more tree trimming, and working toward converting a coal plant to natural gas.
Though he ultimately voted in favor of the rate increase, Trustee John Steen made it clear it was despite his misgivings over some of CPS Energy’s recent decisions, including its planned divestment from coal.
“Simply put, CPS Energy has been committed to a spending spree, and it has to be bankrolled,” Steen said.
CPS Energy President & CEO Rudy Garza told reporters after the vote that he wants to move the utility into the future, which had been “stuck in the mud” for a number of years with cost-cutting efforts.
“We got dangerously low on employees where we were having - starting to see the stress in our performance to our customers. We can’t allow that,” Garza said. “Customers want their power on. They want their gas to turn on when they light their stoves to cook a meal. And so my goal is to figure out how to solve for both.”
Check out our story: “4 Things to know about the proposed CPS Energy rate hike”