CPS Energy’s energy efficiency and conservation program is set to expire at the end of July, and while its cost has been a sticking point for some trustees, it appears likely some version of the program will continue.

The board of trustees heard two options for extending the program’s life on Monday, and Mayor Ron Nirenberg and new trustee Francine Romero asked staff to create a third option that would save even more megawatts.

The existing program, originally called the Save for Tomorrow Energy Program (STEP), aimed to reduce energy demand by incentivizing CPS Energy customers through rebates on energy-efficient appliances and home modifications.

The program was extended twice, and has saved about 1,000 megawatts since 2009, said CPS Energy spokeswoman Christine Patmon — far more than the original goal of saving enough power to allow CPS Energy to avoid building a new fossil fuel plant.

Some trustees, however, have complained about the program’s cost. Ed Kelley, who was replaced by Romero in February, has called the program “throwing away” millions on “ridiculousness.”

Trustee John Steen raised cost concerns during Monday’s meeting, asking first if the program could be suspended, then whether the cost could be broken out so customers know how much they are paying per month for it.

Right now, about $3.50 of the average customer’s bill pays for the conservation program, said Rick Luna, CPS Energy’s director of technology and product innovation.

He shared two options to extend it.

This chart shows two options for potential program outcomes.
This chart shows the two options trustees saw Monday to extend CPS Energy’s conservation programs. Credit: Courtesy / CPS

One would save 265 megawatts, and cost roughly $250 million over five years, equating to about $2.50 on a customer’s average monthly bill.

The other option would save 410 megawatts, and cost about $350 million total, or about $3.51 on a customer’s average monthly bill, Luna said.

Both options would cover existing programs like home weatherization, demand response and rebates, and would also allow CPS Energy to create new programs for saving, like community solar and battery storage.

No other trustee voiced objections to the program on Monday, likely ensuring its extension. Nirenberg noted that while the cost of the program is included on customers’ bills, it’s also money saved by the utility not needing another plant or energy.

No actions were taken Monday, but staff plans to return in May with a final proposal, said Jonathan Tijerina, CPS Energy’s vice president of enterprise risk and development. It is likely the board will make a decision at that time on the program’s fate, he said.

This article has been updated to reflect Jonathan Tijerina’s new title.

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Lindsey Carnett

Lindsey Carnett is the Science & Utilities reporter for the San Antonio Report.