CPS Energy denies damage claim for small business owner who says crews wrecked driveway

BULVERDE, Texas – A small business owner said CPS Energy denied his damage claim after crews from the utility drove on an unfinished driveway in Bulverde, wrecking thousands of dollars in rebar that had been laid down.

“Everything that had been done up to that point was going to need to be redone,” said Cameron Celli, whose company was hired last year to pour a driveway for a custom home off of Casey Road.

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Pictures of the damage provided to KSAT by Celli show mangled rebar. One of the pictures includes two CPS Energy trucks parked on the other side of the unpoured driveway, next to the home.

Celli said CPS Energy crews who were doing the initial installation of power at the property had first agreed to go around the unfinished driveway when accessing the home.

He said the utility workers eventually drove on the grid of rebar, damaging $2,500 worth of materials.

The incident delayed the project for two and a half weeks, according to Celli, who said his employees had to wait for the utility to complete its work before installing a new grid of rebar and moving forward with pouring concrete.

“Therefore, your claim is respectfully denied.”

Celli told KSAT that CPS Energy employees gave conflicting stories on what occurred.

They told a claims adjuster they had not caused the damage, while they told Celli’s employees they had and that their employer would cover the cost to replace the materials, according to Celli.

Celli, who filed a formal claim with CPS Energy in late November, called the process “unique.”

He said employees of the utility’s claims department were difficult to reach on the telephone, and would eventually call back from a blocked number.

“They don’t answer. They’re never at their office,” said Celli, who added that the utility’s motto of “Keeping People First!” did not seem to apply to his situation.

Small business owner Cameron Celli (left) said he has had a frustrating experience with CPS Energy’s claims department. (KSAT)

Celli shared with KSAT a voicemail from CPS Energy officially denying his claim for damages.

The 40 second voicemail, which Celli said he received from a blocked number, did not provide a reason for the denial.

“After our investigation it was determined that CPS Energy is not liable for any additional work or expenses in connection with your claim. Therefore, your claim is respectfully denied,” the voicemail states.

Celli said his repeated follow up calls seeking a reason for the denial have gone unanswered.

“It’s blatantly clear that you did that amount of damage to the driveway. Why there would be any question of paying or compensation for the fixing of the damages?” asked Celli.

CPS Energy paid out on less than 10% of claims

From February 1, 2023 to the end of January, CPS Energy received 412 claims seeking possible reimbursement for damages caused by its crews and infrastructure.

The utility denied 293 of those claims, 81 remained pending at the time of KSAT’s request and the utility had paid out money on 38 of the claims.

The data computes to a denial rate of nearly 91%.

CPS Energy denied 293 of 412 claims for reimbursement made between the start of February 2023 and the end of January. (KSAT)

The utility paid out $86,157.55 on the 38 accepted claims, which computes to an average of $2,267.30 per accepted claim.

CPS Energy officials refused to make President & CEO Rudy Garza available for an interview for this story and said they would not be providing further information on its high claims denial rate.

Read more reporting on the KSAT Investigates page.

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