Chamber Chair Hope Andrade kicked off the last Board of Directors meeting for the year on Thursday, December 16, by welcoming those board members both in-person and virtual and thanking them for their service and dedication to the Chamber. She also offered her sincere thanks to Immediate Past Chair Adam Hamilton, President and CEO of Southwest Research Institute, and incoming Chair Phil Green, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Cullen/Frost Bankers, Inc. and she welcomed 2022 Chair-Elect Katie Harvey, CEO of KGB Texas Communications.
Hope continued the meeting by explaining that reliable and cost-effective power is critical for San Antonio and our business community, and CPS Energy has determined there is a need for a rate increase to continue to provide reliable service. She then welcomed Interim CPS Energy President and CEO Rudy Garza to present CPS’s position and additional background regarding the proposed rate increase. Rudy began his presentation by reminding the board that it has been eight years since CPS Energy has had a rate increase and there have only been five rate increases in the last 30 years.
Earlier this year, CPS was looking at a possible 10% rate increase to address their ten-year outlook. However, when Mayor Nirenberg and Dr. Willis Mackey, the CPS Board Chair, asked the CPS Energy leadership team to determine what the real need was today, they landed on the proposed 3.85% increase, which will allow them to address:
- Infrastructure resiliency, including assuring weatherization standards are in place
- Growth, which will include investments in equipment and capacity to serve our rapidly growing community
- Technology to replace their 20-year-old technology platform that serves as their customer management system
- Employees to stabilize their workforce, hire qualified employees, and prepare for upcoming retirements.
Rudy also briefed that CPS Energy is asking for an additional .8% to generate $418 million for fuel expenses they paid associated with winter storm Uri. This will equate to an increase of an average of $1.26 per month for residential bills over the next 25 years.
Following Rudy’s presentation, J.D. Salinas, Public Policy Council Chair and AVP of External and Legislative Affairs for AT&T, presented the Chamber’s position statement on the CPS Energy rate increase. During the Public Policy Council meeting on December 14, Council members expressed desire for more clarification on the proposed rate increase and the impact to the business community, and Rudy Garza and CPS Energy CFO Cory Kuchinsky were able to quickly meet to provide additional information and clarifications. Following the meeting, the Public Policy Council members voted by consent to approve the position statement in support of the proposed rate increase. The board also voted to support the position statement.
Next, J.D. Salinas presented the Federal Legislative Agenda to board members. The process for developing the Federal Legislative Agenda began with a call for priorities this fall. Each of the Chamber’s councils and committees developed priorities which were presented to the Public Policy Council for approval. The council discussed priorities at length, suggested edits, and approved the Federal Agenda, which will serve as the Chamber’s advocacy guide during the 2022 SA to DC fly-in.
In addition to supporting assistance for hard hit industries, such as restaurants, and bars, tourism and hospitality, healthcare providers and schools, J.D. stated that the 2022 Federal priorities include:
- Efforts to support continued recovery from COVID-19
- Legislation aimed at preventing exorbitant price increases during declared natural disasters
- Support for increased investments in workforce development and training
- Affordable childcare for military families
- Support for increasing and sustaining Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funds.
The Board voted to approve the Federal Agenda.
Hope Andrade continued the meeting by acknowledging those Board members who have completed their terms, including:
- Mike Bacon, Trinity University
- Jim Guy Egbert, Bill Biller Bar-B-Q
- Jeremy Grace, St. Mary’s University
- Diane Melby, Our Lady of the Lake University
- Daniel Menelly, The DoSeum
- Jim Perschbach, Port San Antonio
- Brian Woods, Northside Independent School District
- Corinna Holt Richter, HOLT CAT
- Frank Burney, Martin & Drought
- Jan King, King & Sommer, PLLC
- Katie Harvey, KGB Texas
- Steve Cochran, USAA
- Homer Guevarra, Northwest Vista College
- Rich Valdez, IPSecure
- Rene Dominguez, Texas Research Technology Foundation/Velocity TX
- J.D. Salinas, AT&T
- Elaine Mendoza, Conceptual MindWorks
- Fernando Reyes, Reyes Automotive Group
- Jane Phipps, Masters Leadership Program
- Taylor Dawson, Pape-Dawson Engineers
Finally, the President and CEO of the Chamber Richard Perez thanked the board, once again, for offering their continued time and support to the Chamber throughout the year. He also thanked Hope Andrade for her incredible leadership during 2021 and presented her with a small token of our appreciation.