Texan by Nature is excited to recognize CPS Energy as a 2023 TxN 20 honoree for their leadership in conservation and sustainability. CPS Energy’s commitment to conservation, their projects, programs, best practices, and lessons learned are an example and inspiration for us all.
Honoree Industry and Size: Municipal – Enterprise
CPS Energy is the nation’s largest municipally owned energy company. Thanks to our diversified menu of fuels, we can provide our customers in San Antonio and surrounding areas with affordable and reliable power while being sensitive to the environment. We are constantly striving to meet the changing needs of our customers. From grid optimization to solar power, we’re also building valuable partnerships with companies who share our belief in clean energy, innovation and energy efficiency.
What is CPS Energy’s conservation and sustainability mission and why is it important to your culture?
Our mission is to serve our community through reliable, competitively priced, and sustainable energy services in an equitable manner. The CPS Energy Board of Trustees committed in a resolution to support the City of San Antonio’s Climate Action Adaptation Plan’s goal to become carbon neutral by 2050 and interim goals of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 41% by 2030 and 71% by 2040 from 2016 levels. As the largest municipally owned natural gas and electric utility in the country, CPS Energy takes customer accountability seriously, and we strive to operate transparently, serve our community, and help our community overcome its challenges. We are fully committed to reducing our carbon footprint and transitioning to cleaner energy for climate resiliency. We are all members of the Greater San Antonio community and we share in its successes and struggles. We are One Team. CPS Energy has a special obligation to engage with our community, listen to customer concerns, and communicate clearly and honestly. As we continue to address the challenges of a growing community and an evolving industry, our commitment to our customers is to lead transparently and collaboratively, engaging the community every step of the way.
CPS Energy hosts a public open house inviting the community to learn more about its energy efficiency & conservation resource programs.
How is conservation and sustainability a part of CPS Energy’s business strategy?
The utility industry is witnessing rapid change and our strategic plan, Vision 2027 – An Evolving Utility, is designed to guide CPS Energy through this transformation. With the rapidly increasing rate of change in our industry, this strategic plan is dynamic and can be adapted and amended as needed. We continue to take action to reduce emissions and seek new technologies to transform the way we provide power to our community. While our community’s growth has increased by 50% since 2019, growth itself is not new. We continue to plan for our city’s needs. As we add generating capacity, we also increase conservation efforts to help reduce demand and energy costs for our customers. Our strategic objectives include
Operational Evolution – We embrace innovation and balanced solutions to bring overall value and resiliency to our customers through improved efficiency, sustainability, and management of risk.
Financial Stability – We focus on sound budget discipline and key financial metrics to leverage our strong brand in the financial markets.
Customer Experience – We strive to connect with our diverse customers equitably and in the way they prefer.
Engaged & Service-Oriented Culture – We focus on talent management building a culture of empowerment & engagement in meeting our mission to serve.
Community Partnership & Growth – We are a community partner that works transparently and collaboratively to support key decisions, innovation, and economic growth
What are CPS Energy’s short and long-term goals as they relate to conservation and sustainability?
The CPS Energy Board of Trustees passed a resolution to support the City of San Antonio’s Climate Action Adaptation Plan’s (CAAP) goal to become carbon neutral by 2050 and interim goals of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 41% by 2030 and 71% by 2040 from 2016 levels. CPS Energy will play a primary role in some of the CAAP’s mitigation strategies and indirectly in others. Incorporating renewables to cut carbon intensity is a key CPS Energy strategy, along with aiding customers in energy reduction through efficiency programs. CPS Energy has long tackled adaptation measures like infrastructure upkeep and emergency preparedness.
CPS Energy supports multiple clean waterway community initiatives and sponsors the annual Basura Bash Waterways Cleanup.
Who at CPS Energy is leading your conservation and sustainability efforts and what are some examples of employee engagement in conservation and sustainability at your company?
CPS Energy has a history of collaborating for the good of the environment. The company is seen as a model in the industry regarding how utilities should operate in major cities. Maintaining our environment is simply in CPS Energy’s DNA. The Environmental & Compliance department took root in the overall operations of the company back in the early 1970s. In 2018, a supplemental department, Climate Strategy and Sustainability was created. Angela Rodriguez, Managing Principal Climate Strategy and Sustainability, and her team help ensure our community’s natural resources are being used in an environmentally friendly and sustainable way so they’re available for future generations. In 2019, Angela took on an additional assignment as she began work to represent CPS Energy in the creation of the City of San Antonio’s Climate Action and Adaptation Plan. We have a long-term working relationship on air quality and other environmental issues. We all want to educate and share information with our customers about our environmental and sustainability programs, energy generation, energy conservation, and how CPS Energy continues to lower our carbon intensity to reduce our impact on the environment. “It’s important to engage with the public firsthand and to hear their ideas and potential solutions, plus innovative new ideas that we can incorporate into our strategy,” said Angela. “For the past 11 years or so my job has been making the air cleaner for our community by tackling the criteria pollutants that you can actually put controls on power plants to reduce. I think of greenhouse gases (GHG) and carbon dioxide (CO2) as the final frontier of emissions that must be reduced. SA Climate Ready gives me a way to have an impact on that.”
Our most popular program is proud to be a part of the Earth Day celebration partnering with Parks & Recreation to host tree adoptions. We give away 1,200 trees so San Antonians can do their part in making our environment healthier. Our team of employees distributes 1-gallon trees, tree guides, and supply bags at the event every year. Heath Bentley, a CPS Energy Environmental Analyst who coordinates our tree donation efforts, said these trees will provide many benefits for our environment and community. “More trees help improve air quality,” said Heath. “They provide soil stabilization and reduce stormwater run-off. Trees also provide natural habitat and support the local ecosystem – birds, bees, butterflies, squirrels.”
The San Antonio Water System’s Dos Rios Water Recycling Center is also site to one of CPS Energy’s solar panel farms.
What conservation and sustainability programs and projects does CPS Energy lead and participate in?
In addition to our commitment to Net Zero Emissions by 2050, Sustainable Tomorrow Energy Plan (STEP), and leadership in renewables, CPS Energy works to improve the health of the community, conserve valuable resources, and inspire other companies and individuals through several environmental programs. CPS Energy offers rebate programs that encourage customers to make purchases that are environmentally friendly. Two incentive programs, Green Shade Tree and Mow Down Smog, encourage community members to reduce CO2 to help with climate change and NOx to help reduce ozone formation. The Green Shade Tree Rebate program is a partnership with the City of San Antonio that incentivizes customers to create shade, which keeps homes cooler and reduces energy use. In 2021, customers received 446 tree rebates. Qualifying trees are drought-resistant, canopy shade tree species. Through partnerships with the Girl Scouts of Southwest Texas, Green Spaces Alliance, Hemisfair Conservancy, and Texas Parks & Wildlife, along with community outreach events, CPS Energy supports and invests in programs that improve environmental awareness and conservation. The utility supports these causes to ensure future generations’ health and to protect environmental resources.
“CPS Energy is committed to reducing our carbon footprint and transitioning to cleaner energy for climate resiliency while maintaining reliability and affordability for our customers. We are proud and honored to be recognized by Texan by Nature for our strategic efforts in putting our vision into action to amplify conservation efforts in our growing San Antonio community.”
– Rudy D. Garza, President & CEO, CPS Energy
How do you see the future of conservation and sustainability evolving, and what role will CPS Energy play in that progress?
As we move forward, CPS Energy envisions an increasingly dynamic landscape of conservation and sustainability. Our commitment remains steadfast in enriching lives through equitable, affordable, dependable, and sustainable energy solutions. The future presents us with unique challenges and opportunities as San Antonio, one of the fastest-growing cities in the nation, continues to thrive.
Amid this growth, our role takes on multiple dimensions. We’re fully committed to the seamless integration of innovative technologies, all within the context of recent extreme weather events and an industry in transition. Adapting to and mitigating the effects of extreme weather events is another critical aspect of our mission. We understand the significance of maintaining competitiveness in attracting and retaining top talent, ensuring that our workforce is poised to drive innovation and progress.
Through collaborative partnerships, forward-thinking initiatives, and a relentless pursuit of sustainability, CPS Energy is poised to be a trailblazer in shaping a future where conservation and responsible resource utilization take center stage. Our commitment to advancing environmental stewardship will not only elevate our company’s standing but also contribute significantly to the broader evolution of sustainable practices.
How does CPS Energy quantify investment and return on conservation and sustainability?
As we make decisions regarding investment in powering our growing city, we take many factors into consideration during that process. In choosing the Power Generation Resource path to 2030, we took a balanced approach and the key metrics used to make the decision were System Reliability & Climate Resiliency, Environmental Sustainability, Affordability, System Flexibility and Workforce Impact. After an 18-month long process and analysis, the CPS Energy Board approved a plan that balanced affordability and reliability with sustainability and climate resiliency.
Outside of power generation assets, another great example of our investment in sustainability is the thoughtful revitalization of a two-tower downtown campus that has become the new headquarters of CPS Energy. It was a sound decision to save money by selling our older buildings. The age of these buildings continually required escalating operating and maintenance costs to keep them safe and secure. Their sale offset the cost of the project and help us save money each year going forward. The McCullough buildings were planned and constructed for Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) certification and are 60% more efficient than our previous complex. It has also been recognized with the first-ever Build San Antonio Green (BSAG) commercial retrofit certification. This certification, known as a level 2, signifies CPS Energy’s headquarters being ten percent or over projected energy savings over code. Our more efficient and effective headquarters complex will become a complementary beacon for our community for years to come and will serve as a worthwhile investment for our customers, community, and employees.
CPS Energy partners with the City of San Antonio’s Parks & Recreation on Earth Day and gives away over 1,000 trees annually.
What is the one lesson that CPS Energy has learned from your conservation and sustainability efforts that others can take back and think about applying within their own space?
We have recognized feedback is critical to us as we serve our community today while planning for our energy future. CPS Energy is owned by the City of San Antonio and community input into our conservation and sustainability efforts helps ensure that the people impacted have a voice in the decision-making process. We have enhanced our relationships with our Board of Trustees, City Staff, and the media, and we are connecting, listening, and engaging transparently with our community. We have multiple ways for our customers to engage and give us feedback during a series of community engagement efforts, among which include open houses, virtual town halls, and customer surveys. CPS Energy actively seeks input from the community as the utility develops and executes a plan to power San Antonio’s future.
CPS Energy partners with the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department for the annual Kids Fish Day at Calaveras Lake, the source of cooling water for the Calaveras Power Station.
Why is Texas an important home or base of operations for CPS Energy?
With its gas system dating back to 1860, CPS Energy is the oldest utility company in Texas and the nation’s largest community-owned provider of electric and natural gas services. We provide safe, reliable, and competitively priced services to over 930,000 electric and 380,000 natural gas customers in San Antonio and portions of seven adjoining counties. The City of San Antonio purchased CPS Energy for $34 million in 1942. As of October 24, 2022, the utility has been a business owned by the City of San Antonio, and marks over 80 years since all citizens of San Antonio became the investors and direct benefactors of CPS Energy. Our community’s investment has generated over $9 billion in revenue and reliable and affordable power. As a trusted and reliable community partner, we continuously focus on job creation, economic development, and educational investment within the community we’ve called home for over 80 years. In addition, our New Energy Economy (NEE) partnerships with businesses that share our vision for clean energy, innovation, and energy efficiency have committed more than $23 million in support of local educational programs, over 900 new jobs, and over $200 million in investments to fuel our local economy. Collectively, once our partners reach all their commitments, the annual economic impact of our NEE is projected to be over $1.4 billion.
Find out more about CPS Energy’s conservation and sustainability efforts here.
Tree rebates were provided in partnership with City of San Antonio to increase shade and cool homes, reducing energy use. Additionally, 1,200 trees are complementarily distributed at community events and 75+ trees are donated to Habitat for Humanity for planting at new home sites annually
These sponsorships support education, environmental awareness, conservation, and economic development.
Through the use of wastewater instead of water from the aquifer for large-scale power plant cooling in the last 60 years.
San Antonio, Texas
San Antonio, Texas
San Antonio, Texas
Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas