New options to save energy and money this summer from CPS Energy

cps energy logoWe all know it’s going to be a hot summer, but an El Nino weather pattern could potentially bring even warmer than normal temperatures to the area. Combine that with natural with gas prices that remain high following the harsh winter, and you’re looking at higher than average summer energy bills.

Luckily, CPS Energy has expanded its demand response programs, including new ones that work with window units as well as central air conditioning systems. They help customers lower their bills and help the utility use less power when it’s most expensive (and that keeps costs down for all of us).

The average residential customer is expected to use 1,572 kilowatt hours of electricity per month from June through September, resulting in a bill of $174.37. That’s up about $21 from average bills from the previous summer.

That potential increase means there’s a strong need for energy conservation, said Executive Vice President Jelynne LeBlanc Burley, “so we’re doing everything possible to help our customers lower the amount of energy they’re buying. It gives them a smaller bill and reduces demand on the state grid.

“We have everything from an average of $5,000 of free weatherization improvements for qualifying customers to a kit that allows customers to program their window AC units. We’ve also added rebates for the popular Nest Learning Thermostat™,” she added.

Customers can decrease the amount of energy they use and buy through a number of energy efficient options, including:

  • Casa Verde weatherization program (free) – average of $5,000 in improvements decreases average bill by $27
  • Friedrich’s Kühl Window AC unit – programmable unit to manage temperature settings
  • Nest Learning Thermostat™ – learns temperature preferences and programs itself allowing customer to manage temperature with a smart phone or computer
  • Home Manager (free) – saves an average of 10 percent by allowing customer to manage central AC, electric water heater and pool pump with a computer, smart phone or tablet
  • Smart Thermostat (free) – Honeywell programmable thermostat allows customer to manage temperature using computer or laptop
  • Cool Energy Program smartAC kit (free) – wireless smart plug for existing window AC allows customer to manage temperature with a smart phone or computer.

Most of those are part of CPS Energy’s Demand Response programs, which allows CPS Energy to briefly bump up your thermostat a couple degrees on the hottest summer afternoons, when demand peaks. Customers receive a credit on their bill at the end of the season, which goes through September, for participating.

Customers also can take advantage of rebates for air duct systemsrefrigeratorsAC unitssolar systems and more by visiting Energy efficiency tips such as setting a thermostat between 78 – 80 degrees and raising the temperature several degrees when leaving a home for several hours are more ways to save.

Families experiencing financial hardships and military veterans burned during service can get bill assistance through a variety of programs. CPS Energy commits a minimum of $1 million annually to the Residential Energy Assistance Program (REAP). Last year, customers partnering with their energy provider contributed more than $200,000 to assist local neighbors in need.


CPS Energy records second year of top performance

CPS workersCPS Energy’s electric reliability is within the top tier of the industry, its employees have increased safety to a record high for the second year in a row, and customer satisfaction remains high.

That’s what the San Antonio City Council heard at its April 3 work session from CPS Energy CEO Doyle Beneby, who also offered an update on the state of the energy industry and the city-owned utility’s overall strategic plan.

Beneby also touched on the utility’s finances, which remain strong, and the continued job creation from its New Energy Economy partners.

“I can’t point to any one factor as the driver of CPS Energy’s success,” Beneby said. “It takes a committed team of employees doing a hundred different things well to get these kinds of results. And when we deliver the basics reliably, it gives us an opportunity to look for other ways to be of value to our customers—through economic development and support for education initiatives.”

Diversification and risk management remain the cornerstone of CPS Energy policy, Beneby said. That includes continuing to reduce the carbon intensity of the utility’s generation fleet, by moving away from unscrubbed coal and increasing the use of natural gas, clean coal and solar power.

CPS Energy also continues to invest in innovative technologies, such as LED lighting, electrical grid upgrades and demand management technologies. Those investments all have a strong economic development component, as CPS Energy continues to leverage its investments to bring good-paying, clean energy jobs to the region.

Customers continue to give the utility high marks, Beneby told the council.

Since 2009, customer satisfaction has inched upwards from 79 percent to 81 percent, according to the annual Residential Customer Satisfaction Surveys. Beneby has set a goal of 83 percent satisfaction by 2015, he told the council.


CPS Energy ranks number one in overall customer satisfaction among large southern utilities, according to J.D. Power and Associates, topping a list that includes Florida Power & Light, Alabama Power, Oklahoma Gas & Electric and South Carolina Electric & Gas.


Customer satisfaction has dipped recently, as CPS Energy deals with a temporary increase in estimated billing, the industry-wide practice of estimating some bills, then adjusting them to the actual meter reading at a later date.

That has led to an increase in customer service calls and longer wait times for those trying to sort out their bills.

CPS Energy has since hired additional readers and has sped up the implementation of meters which can be read remotely, meaning readers don’t have to go on a customer’s property to get a reading.

“And to help with high call volumes, we’re encouraging our customers to use more of our online service features, especially during the upcoming summer months when we experience the highest volume of customer calls,” said Maria Koudouris, senior vice president of customer service.

Customer satisfaction remains high when it comes to reliability. Both the length and frequency of outages has declined; in 2009, the average length of interruption was more than two hours; last year it was just over an hour, putting CPS Energy in the top ten percent for utility reliability.


For all the good news, Beneby is perhaps most proud of CPS Energy’s safety record. He has consistently said that he considers safety — getting employees home safely to their families every night — to be his top priority.

For the second year in a row, CPS Energy employees have met the challenge, resulting in the best safety performance in the company’s history. Reported safety incidents have dropped from 120 in 2009 to 48 last year. Beneby has set even more stringent goals, to reduce incidents even more by 2015.


Turning to the company’s financials, Beneby told councilmembers CPS Energy is recognized as having the premier credit rating in the industry by Bank of America/Merrill Lynch, a position bolstered by a continued focus on cost efficiency and process improvements within the company.

As a result, operations and maintenance costs per CPS Energy customer has dropped, from $368 to $345 per person, with a goal of $333 per person by 2015. At the same time, employees continue to work more efficiently. That has resulted in a leaner workforce, from a high of almost 4,300 in 2001 to about 3,400 today.

Beneby also highlighted CPS Energy’s stepped-up commitment to economic development. The utility’s New Energy Economy partners, which include OCI Solar Power, GreenStar, Silver Spring Network and Consert, among others, have made $88 million in investments in the San Antonio region to date, including the creation of 154 jobs and $1.5 million that has been donated to local educational initiatives.

Those partners are on track to meet their commitments to create more than 1,000 jobs by 2018, Beneby said, with investments topping $974 million.

Councilman Reed Williams, a former energy industry executive, said he was pleased by what he heard.

“I think we’re in a great position,” he said, referencing the utility’s increased use of natural gas as part of its effort to diversify fuel sources. “Keeping costs down, safety up — these are good things.”

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EPA Recognizes USAA Real Estate Company with 2013 Energy Star® Partner Of The Year – Sustained Excellence Award

usaa logoThe U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has recognized USAA Real Estate Company with a 2013 ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year – Sustained Excellence Award for their continued leadership in protecting our environment through superior energy efficiency. USAA Real Estate Company’s accomplishments will be recognized at an awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. on March 26, 2013.

USAA Real Estate Company, an ENERGY STAR partner since 2000, will be honored for its long-term commitment to energy efficiency. In 2012, USAA saved 3.42% in energy consumption, saved $2.7MM and improved overall efficiency (measured via reduction in Average Source Energy Intensity – kBtu/SF/YR) by 38%. This recognition marks USAA Real Estate Company’s 11th straight Energy Star Partner of the Year recognition, the most by any real estate company.

Across the U.S., top companies and organizations are leading the way toward a more energy-efficient future through their participation in ENERGY STAR. Over the last 20 years, with help from ENERGY STAR, American families and businesses have saved more than $230 billion on utility bills and prevented more than 1.8 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

“USAA Real Estate Company is committed to increasing energy efficiency in our portfolio through our partnership with ENERGY STAR, which helps protect the environment and reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said T. Patrick Duncan, CEO.  “More importantly, our partnership with Energy Star and commitment to greater efficiency has driven the business case such that we’ve improved financial performance, tenant/occupant comfort as well as improved environmental execution.”

“EPA is recognizing USAA Real Estate Company for earning EPA’s highest ENERGY STAR award – the 2013 Partner of the Year – Sustained Excellence Award,” said Bob Perciasepe, Acting Administrator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. “USAA Real Estate Company leads the field with their commitment to energy efficiency and demonstrates how all Americans can save energy, save money, and create a healthier environment.”

The 2013 Partner of the Year – Sustained Excellence Awards are given to a select group of organizations that have exhibited outstanding leadership year after year. These winners have reduced greenhouse gas emissions by setting and achieving aggressive goals, and employing innovative energy efficiency approaches. These awards recognize ongoing leadership across the ENERGY STAR program, including energy-efficient products, services, new homes, and buildings in the commercial, industrial, and public sectors. Award winners are selected from the nearly 20,000 organizations that participate in the ENERGY STAR program.

About USAA Real Estate Company
USAA Real Estate Company, with approximately $12 billion in assets under management, provides co-investment, acquisition, build-to-suit and development services for corporate and institutional investors. The USAA portfolio consists of office, industrial, multi-family, retail and hotel properties as well as investments in real estate operating companies. USAA Real Estate Co. is a subsidiary of USAA, a leading financial services company, serving military families since 1922. For more information, visit

ENERGY STAR was introduced by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 1992 as a voluntary market-based partnership to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through increased energy efficiency. Today, ENERGY STAR offers businesses and consumers energy-efficient solutions to save energy, money, and help protect the environment for future generations. Nearly 20,000 organizations are ENERGY STAR partners committed to improving the energy efficiency of products, homes, and buildings. For more information about ENERGY STAR, visit or call toll-free 1-888-STAR-YES (1-888-782-7937).