CPS, other entities aim to educate on conservation – mySA

As the relentless summer heat continues to hit the 100-degree mark, Bexar County residents know how that translates when their energy bill arrives in the mail.

Representatives from CPS and Bexar County understand the pain associated with escalating electric and gas bills and have launched Customer Program Fairs in an attempt to reach residents who may need, and qualify for, payment and energy-saving assistance.

Calvary Baptist Church on FM 78 near the Meadow Park and Sunrise subdivisions in Bexar County, played host to a CPS Customer Program Fair on July 27, bringing CPS and a dozen similar entities to the area for residents to utilize.

Laura Jacobs, CPS Energy senior manager for customer advocacy, said CPS hosts such events twice each month throughout the 10 San Antonio city council districts in an effort to reach residents who may need the help.

“We’ve brought many community resources here for members of the community to come and get access to,” Jacobs said. “Many programs available to veterans, low-income or disadvantaged homeowners are available here today.”

Many residents, especially in the unincorporated areas of Bexar County, often are not aware of the programs, rebates and benefits.

Tommy Calvert, Bexar County Precinct 4 commissioner, was on hand to help answer questions and direct constituents to the proper responsive agencies.

“It’s very important that we help people with saving in energy efficiency. We know times are tough and inflation has a lot of people struggling to make bills,” Calvert said.

“I was sitting in an AACOG meeting with Lisa Lewis from CPS Energy and I asked, ‘Can we do an event where people can get rebates for energy-efficient products, like light bulbs, and all those kinds of things’? And she said yes,” Calvert said. “And here we are today.”

While the two-hour event officially began at 5:30 p.m., dozens of people were already inside, progressing from table to table, inquiring about the services being offered by the start-time.

Organizations present included CPS, Bexar County, San Antonio Water System (SAWS), Aetna, San Antonio WIC, San Antonio Solid Waste, Randolph Brooks Federal Credit Union, and The Health Collaborative.

“I see the turnout means people are very much looking for ways to save, looking for programs that may help, and we have them here,” the commissioner said. “Any kind of energy efficiency we can have, whether its LED light, or a refrigerator or air conditioner, is a savings to their families.”

The first 200 attendees left the program fair with one of the CPS Home Conservation Kits. The kits were handed out to those who visited each organization table for information and received a “passport stamp.” Jacobs said the kit, valued at over $50, included five LED light bulbs, a low-flow bath aerator, a low-flow kitchen aerator, a 1.5 gallons-per-minute shower head, foam pipe insulation, a battery-powered smoke alarm, and a pack of outlet and switch gaskets to be installed throughout the house.

CPS staff manned a table to meet with customers who had concerns or questions about their bills.

“We brought them here, in person, to give consumers some one-on-one face time with an energy advisor to talk about their accounts,” Jacobs said. The advisors could then guide the customer to one of the CPS-employee-manned stations to discuss rebates and potential methods of saving money or reducing utility cost.

“We have many programs that affect the customer’s account, programs like our affordability discount program, which offers about $194 off a collective year if you have gas and electric services,” she said.

Individuals that are suffering from an energy burden usually live in homes where there is too much air flow and the house is unable to retain its AC or central heating and air, she said, which can produce about a 40 percent cost to a person’s electric bill.

“We have our weatherization program which provides about $5,000 of free measures installed into a home. That could be wall insulation, attic insulation, window caulking, weather stripping, and sometimes we’ll replace a window or a door, depending on how loose it may be,” she added.

One relatively unknown program is the CPS budget payment plan. The agency looks at a customer’s previous year’s energy consumption and averages that out for payments for the following year.

“This way, customers do not have to suffer ‘sticker shock’ about what their bill is going to be, they will have a set bill every month,” Jacobs explained. “At the end of the year we reconcile. If you saved money, conserved, during the year, we end up giving you a credit to either apply to your billing or you can ask for a check,” she said. “Then we’ll readjust for the next year.”

Any CPS customer wishing to learn more about existing rebates, discounts or programs designed to help them save money can contact CPS through its website, at either: cpsenergy.com/events or cpsenergy.com/savings.

jflinn@express-news.net

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