CPS Energy remains focused on keeping power flowing to the community during these unprecedented times. Credit: Courtesy / CPS Energy

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One of San Antonio’s strengths is having a municipally owned electric and gas utility that’s committed to providing the power to get us through the best and worst of times. For 160 years, CPS Energy has served our community exceptionally well. Thus far, 2020 has brought trials and tribulations. Daily we’re being tested by the COVID-19 pandemic. As we often remind the community, CPS Energy’s six guiding pillars are Reliability, Customer Affordability, Safety, Security, Environmental Responsibility, and Resiliency, all resting on a strong foundation of financial responsibility. Our team members use these pillars to guide them in providing Greater San Antonio with the high quality electric and gas services our customers expect and deserve.

Energy Advisors continue to provide excellent service to the community remotely through the pandemic. Credit: Courtesy / CPS Energy

With the onset of this global pandemic, CPS Energy acted on its People First philosophy by reviewing and updating emergency plans, implementing social-distancing measures, and enabling most of our office team members to work remotely.

As many aspects of our daily lives were being restricted, the company moved swiftly to alter the hours at its walk-in business centers so customers could continue to be served in person safely and effectively. Energy Advisors from our call center rapidly turned their homes into satellite locations. Together, our team answered more than 410,000 calls between March 15 and July 15.

While some of our employees can work from home to support important public health recommendations, others must be out and about in order to keep the electricity and natural gas flowing, including during disruptions caused by our typical South Texas spring and summer storm seasons. For example, CPS Energy crews restored power to tens of thousands of customers after outages caused by three significant storms in May.

The CPS Energy Board of Trustees also practice social distancing with the implementation of teleconferences for their monthly meetings starting on March 30, 2020. Credit: Courtesy / CPS Energy

I’ve such appreciation and high regard for the front-line employees who work in our power plants and in the field. CPS Energy employees are indispensable to the well-being of our community, and I urge everyone to thank them for remaining focused on their jobs, even while their lives and the lives of their families have also been disrupted by COVID-19.

As board members, Vice Chair Dr. Willis Mackey, Trustee Ed Kelley, Trustee Janie Gonzalez, Mayor Ron Nirenberg, and I have adjusted as well. We promptly converted to telephonic board meetings to continue ensuring sound business governance and oversight while consistently providing opportunities for robust public input and commentary. During this critical period, CPS Energy’s Board of Trustees has remained committed to keeping everyone safe and our deliberations transparent.

Throughout, CPS Energy has been guided by the steady hand of President and CEO Paula Gold-Williams. Under her direction, the workforce seamlessly transitioned to this new landscape. Gold-Williams has remained consistent and innovative in communicating with both employees and the community, truly living the mantra of putting People First. I commend her and her leadership team for skillfully managing this large, complex, essential, and around-the-clock organization of more than 3,100 team members through these unprecedented times.

Paula Gold-Williams, President & CEO leads with a focus on putting People First. Credit: Courtesy / CPS Energy

We work hand in hand with the City of San Antonio and Bexar County under the leadership of Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Judge Nelson Wolff, respectively. We applaud the resources they’ve secured to assist those struggling financially. Aligned to these efforts, and early in the pandemic, CPS Energy suspended disconnections due to nonpayment. Before normal disconnection processes are resumed, CPS Energy will give affected customers ample notice and the opportunity to enter into a payment plan and/or apply for any available assistance.

CPS Energy’s steadfast commitment will not waver as our community, state and nation rebound from the worst aspects of the pandemic. Now more than ever, our guiding pillars are our top priorities as we help our customers and community through the process of restoring our local economy and working together to build a brighter future.

John Steen is Board Chair of the CPS Energy Board of Trustees. He previously served as the 108th Texas Secretary of State and as a commissioner of the Texas Department of Public Safety.