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A Residential Consumer Advocate Would Protect CPS Energy Ratepayers

The city’s electric utility is expected to request another rate increase soon

SAN ANTONIO, Texas – The San Antonio City Council must hire a consumer advocate with rate analysis experience to protect residents from unfair rate hikes, Public Citizen said today.

“Any rate increase should include the full consideration of the rights and views of residential ratepayers, who are entitled to fairness throughout the rate-setting process,” said DeeDee Belmares, clean energy advocate for Public Citizen. “An experienced consumer advocate can advise the council on appropriate rates that won’t place an added financial burden on low-income residents and will encourage conservation. If residents are asked to pay more to power their homes, they deserve an advocate with professional experience to sit at the negotiating table on their behalf.”

The involvement of a residential consumer advocate in utility rate proposals is a common practice. Residential customers of utilities subject to Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUC) oversight are represented in rate increase cases by the state’s Office of Public Utility Counsel (OPUC). As with all municipally-owned utilities, the PUC doesn’t oversee CPS Energy rate changes and residents will not be represented by OPUC. However, some cities proactively fill this representation gap on behalf of residents. The City of Austin, for example, includes a consumer advocate in Austin Energy rate proceedings, which the city runs like rate cases at the PUC.

Residential consumer advocates are routinely used in other states as well.

CPS Energy’s rate hike proposal is expected in the coming months and follows an increase that went into effect in March 2022, the first increase in eight years. It will be up to the City Council to vote on any new rates. There is no announced timeline for CPS Energy’s proposal or the concluding council vote.

CPS Energy has signaled it will request yet another increase that will go into effect in 2026.