The time has come for CPS Energy customers to decide if they will accept their rebate from the city’s unexpected summer revenue windfall, or if they will donate the money to neighbors in need.

CPS Energy and the City of San Antonio announced Thursday that H-E-B and USAA will decline their rebate credits of $530,932 and $119,295 respectively.

The companies will instead donate the money to CPS Energy’s Residential Energy Assistance Partnership (REAP) program, which helps low-income San Antonians pay their utility bills.

The rebates are coming out of the $75 million in additional revenue CPS Energy contributed to the city budget thanks to a brutally hot, dry summer and high natural gas prices. As a municipally-owned utility, CPS Energy contributes roughly 14% of its gross revenues to the city every year, which makes up about a third of its general fund. 

“We want to thank H-E-B and USAA for their leadership in being the first companies to commit to donating their bill credits to REAP,” said DeAnna Hardwick, CPS Energy’s executive vice president of customer strategy. “Their support will help our shared customers and families in need.”

The rebate proposal was hotly debated by the City Council before ultimately being approved in mid-September, with $42.5 million earmarked for rebates, and another $7.5 million going directly to REAP.

The rebates, which will go to residential and commercial customers alike, will come in the form of a bill credit on December bills. The amount of the credit will be roughly 13% of customers’ July bills, so the higher the bill, the bigger the credit. Residents with a $230 July bill will see a $29 credit, officials have said.

Some residents and council members were unhappy to learn that as many as 40 large companies would see six-figure bill credits.

When the council passed its 2023 budget, which included the rebate program, it also added an option to allow customers to pass their credit on to REAP or CPS Energy’s weatherization program, both of which benefit the city’s poorest residents.

CPS Energy President and CEO Rudy Garza has said he will be sending his own rebate to REAP. “To the council’s point, not everybody needs the money back … but 20% to 25% of our customers are behind,” he said in September. At the time, he said the utility was owed roughly $165 million from delinquent accounts.

CPS Energy customers who want to donate their rebate can do so by completing the opt-out form, visiting a CPS Energy customer service center or calling (210) 353-2222.

Customers will need their customer account number and either their Social Security number, drivers license number or tax ID number. Those choosing to opt out must do so by Jan. 15, 2023.

Customers must be up to date on their own bills if they wish to opt out of receiving the bill credit; those who are behind will see the credit applied to their past due balance. Customers can select via the online form if they want to see the credit go towards direct bill payment assistance or towards home weatherization improvements.

Scott Syamken, USAA’s vice president of corporate real estate and workplace services, acknowledged that many residents are feeling the pinch of inflation.

“Supporting local residents in need with this credit is just one of the many ways USAA hopes to continue positively impacting our local community here in Military City, U.S.A,” he said.

George Presses, H-E-B’s vice president of energy, echoed Syamken’s ‘people first’ sentiment.

“Giving back to the communities we serve is our greatest responsibility,” he said. “Along with CPS Energy and the City of San Antonio, we are working towards making sure people are at the heart of everything we do.”

Disclosure: CPS Energy and H-E-B are financial supporters of the San Antonio Report. For a full list of business members, click here.

Lindsey Carnett covers the environment, science and utilities for the San Antonio Report. A native San Antonian, she graduated from Texas A&M University in 2016 with a degree in telecommunication media...