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CPS Energy Expected To Restart Disconnections For Non-Payments In Late Spring

The new CPS Energy headquarters near McCollough Ave and Broadway
Joey Palacios
Texas Public Radio
The new CPS Energy headquarters near McCollough Ave and Broadway

San Antonio and Bexar County’s only power utility will likely restart disconnecting customers who haven’t paid their bills in the next few months.

President and CEO Paula Gold-Williams told board members Monday the disconnects could resume in ‘late Spring to early summer.’ The utility had paused disconnects almost a year ago as the pandemic began to take hold of the United States and the employment status of thousands in San Antonio was impacted as people were laid off, furloughed, or jobs were eliminated.

CPS Energy has more than 867,000 electricity customers and 360,000 natural gas customers. Of those, 170,000 customers are currently more than 30 days past due. The total outstanding balance owed by customers to the utility is over $93 million.

Gold-Williams said the timeframe was based on vaccinations currently taking place in Bexar County.

“Our goal is to try to have the vaccinations more available and taking hold in the community so as the community comes and gets to the right balance of restarting the economy and people getting back to work then we would correlate with restarting the disconnects at that time,” she said.

No metrics were provided as to what level of vaccinations would be the threshold to restart the disconnection process. As of Sunday, 263,000 of Bexar County’s total 2 million residents had been fully vaccinated. Whereas about 461,000 had received at least one dose of a vaccine.

San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg — who sits on the CPS board of trustees — questioned the timeframe saying vaccination rates and why it would play a factor.

“I don’t see that the vaccination process has an immediate impact on the financial realities that so many of our residents are struggling with right now,” Nirenberg said.

The mayor said he would like for the board to have more information before a date is advertised to the public.

“I’d like to ask ... if we as a board could have a data-driven discussion sometime soon —- in the next meeting or two — about what’s possible when it comes to addressing or resuming disconnects in our community before we put that out there as a date certain,” Nirenberg said.

Throughout the pandemic the city has made available several resources to ratepayers — such as the emergency housing assistance program — to provide financial support in making utility payments. CPS Energy also has its Energy Angels program where community members can make payments towards the bill of another customer.

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Joey Palacios can be reached atJoey@TPR.org and on Twitter at @Joeycules