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CPS Energy is asking for a 3.85% rate hike. Will San Antonio City Council give it the green light this week?

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Karen Fasimpaur
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San Antonio City Council will consider and is expected to approve a proposed 3.85% rate increase for CPS Energy customers on Thursday.

The current proposal is less than half of CPS Energy's original ask of 10% earlier this year and would generate about $73 million per year for the utility.

CPS says raising rates is necessary for its operations and would go toward investments in infrastructure weatherization and resiliency, and to ensure the capability of its power generation units ahead of the year’s coldest months.

This might not be the utility's last ask. CPS is also considering a separate ask for a 0.8% increase that would be added to customers’ natural gas costs for the next 25 years.

CPS Energy is still recovering from the financial blow it took during last year’s winter storm, during which the utility was charged over $1 billion for higher-than-usual natural gas rates. So far, CPS has paid out approximately $418 million with almost $500 million still in legal dispute.

The pandemic has also presented financial challenges, as customers who fell behind on their bills since its start owe CPS a total of more than $130 million, with an average debt of $693 per residential account as of the end of October.

How likely is it that the 3.85% increase will get the green light this week? What are council members’ chief concerns? How does CPS justify the rate request?

If approved, when would it go into effect? How much would the average consumer’s bill go up? What assistance is available for households that can’t afford higher rates or already have outstanding energy debt?

Should consumers expect other rate hikes in months and years to come? Do customers have a seat at the table in rate increase discussions?

CPS Energy is hosting a series of virtual townhalls with each City Council District. Click here to register for upcoming events and watch tapings of those that have already taken place.

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*This interview was recorded on Monday, January 10.