If you experienced an extended outage during February’s historic winter storm, CPS Energy says it’s providing a one-time bill credit as an act of “goodwill.”
The credit will apply to customers who experienced a total of 24 hours or more of blackouts between February 15 and 19, when the utility was forced to shut off some customers’ power to meet demands by the state’s electrical grid operator as generators around the state went offline.
For the majority of these customers, who experienced outages for less than two days, the amount is a little more than the cost of a Whataburger meal. The credit is $8.75 for residential and small business customers, and $10.50 for large-use residential customers. That amount reflects the cost of the flat fee charged to customers each month for electric service, called the “electric service availability charge.”
More credit will be applied for customers who went without power for more than two days – 48 hours or longer – ranging from $50 to $100. The longer the customer went without power, the higher the credit. The $100 maximum is for customers who experienced an outage for more than four days.
“We tried to come up with a plan that was meaningful for those that had the worst experience,” said Rudy Garza, CPS Energy’s chief customer engagement officer.
According to the utility, 227,087 customers were without power for one to two days, 23,064 were without power for two to three days, 1,378 were without power for three to four days, and 77 customers were without power for more than four days.
CPS Energy is spending $3.5 million on the credits, which Garza called “not insignificant” in light of the costs CPS Energy faces from the winter storm. “We’ll tighten our belts and find efficiencies and a way to pay for this.”
The credits will be automatically applied to customer accounts on April 10 and will be reflected in bills from April 12 through May 11.
A Bexar Facts/KSAT/San Antonio Report poll released Tuesday signaled that confidence in the utility has dropped among Bexar County voters, as 49% of respondents said they disapproved of the company’s performance, compared to only 23% in September 2020.
CPS Energy President and CEO Paula Gold-Williams said in a prepared statement the storm was a “horrible experience” for the utility’s customers.
“While we understand that no amount of money can make up for that experience, we are passionate about following through on the commitment we made during the storm to further help our customers who were most affected by the related outages,” she said.
She also referred to the utility’s ongoing lawsuit against the Texas electric grid operator, or Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), as a “fight to protect our customers and community.”
CPS Energy’s suit, filed in March, accuses ERCOT of charging excessive and illegal prices during the storm. The utility has also filed suit against 16 natural gas suppliers, which it similarly accused of “opportunistic price gouging” after prices spiked roughly 16,000%.
Those prices, which have so far incurred a total cost of more than $1 billion to the utility, were charged when CPS Energy bought power from ERCOT after its own power plants failed to perform in the cold conditions, and when it converted one of its coal plants to run on natural gas.
The utility has so far avoided raising its customers’ rates to pay for those costs.
It has also suspended disconnections, though it plans to resume them in the coming months, and late fees are being waived on unpaid balances for customers who participate in a payment plan.
CPS said customers with questions about their bills, or who want to discuss waiving their late fees, should call 210-353-2222.
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