My interest in serving our community, as the vice chair of CPS Energy’s board of trustees, extends well beyond a desire to leverage my organizational leadership and financial oversight skills. It is also motivated by my deep commitment to the best interests of our community and rooted in my early career experiences in the exciting energy industry.
Few people know that before I began my 30-year service career in education, I worked in various segments of the energy industry. As a licensed commercial driver, I operated bucket trucks that provided electric service to the City of Luling. At the former Thigpen Electric Company in Luling, Texas, I ensured the seamless flow of electricity to oilfield pumps. Later, while employed at the Phillips Petroleum Gas Company in Fentress, Texas, I worked in the substation transmission facilities. Every experience in the energy field was a unique and exciting challenge. As a trustee, I am now leading, contributing, and gaining profound knowledge from a different perspective.
At CPS Energy, we are fortunate to have the steadfast leadership of President and CEO Paula Gold-Williams, the dedication of more than 3,100 elite and experienced professionals in our workforce, and a diverse group of strategically oriented and experienced trustees. Together, this great combination directs us to a bright and responsible energy future. Not only am I proud of CPS Energy’s successes to date, but also of our intense focus on environmental responsibility.
Nationally, CPS Energy is a leader with 1,000 megawatts of wind energy and close to 600 megawatts of solar energy, which equates to over 20 percent of our current energy generating capacity. Your community utility is the No. 1 producer of solar power in Texas and is ranked No. 5 in the nation. Additionally, our creative Flexible Path embodies our team’s commitment to replace fossil fuel units with more renewable energy sources and new, effective energy technologies.
As a trustee, I have a vision to accelerate our environmental efforts while also keeping our electric and natural gas systems affordable, reliable, and resilient for all our customers. Every detail matters.
Our energy efficiency and conservation program, the Save for Tomorrow Energy Plan, or STEP, has been extremely successful and award-winning. Despite the pressure driven by San Antonio’s continued population growth, STEP successfully prevented the need to build a new fossil fuel power plant in 2012.
Our CEO and her team also created another critical pathway for clean energy and innovation through the FlexPOWER Bundle, conceptually designed to help add nearly 900 megawatts of solar, battery storage, and “firming capacity.” The firming capacity in the bundle is essential because it will stabilize energy levels when the sun does not shine or when the wind does not blow. The other exciting aspect of firming capacity is that it provides another new technology in our ongoing quest to “think globally and act locally,” bringing even more value to our community.
As an independent point of validation, international credit rating agencies continuously give CPS Energy strong business marks for maintaining affordable customer rates, prudent management strategies, low operating costs, strong financial accountability, and conservative financial trusts that support retirees who dedicated their careers to providing energy excellence for San Antonio.
Both the CPS Energy board of trustees and management team welcome feedback and suggestions from our community. While we are determined to embrace new energy solutions, we realize that we must be careful about rushing into approaches that could jeopardize our commitments to our customers and our community. Close to home, we see examples where arbitrary commitments to accelerated timelines to become 100 percent renewable are now causing serious economic and reliability challenges to customers and communities. Thus, our commitment, first and foremost, remains on prudently maintaining customer affordability, reliability, resiliency, and financial stability.
My personal commitment as a trustee, therefore, is to ensure that we hear diverse voices, that our leadership team remains accountable to all our customers, and that management stays focused on making balanced decisions that thoughtfully move us to an increasingly cleaner energy future.