CPS Energy officials said they are equipped and trained as best as possible to address problems that could be caused by major weather this winter.

The background

Holding a Dec. 14 press conference at CPS Energy headquarters, officials with the utility said they understand the higher level of scrutiny government leaders and community members give to electrical supplies given the impacts of Winter Storm Uri in February 2021.

CPS Energy Chief Meteorologist Brian Alonzo said because of the El Nino weather pattern, normal to slightly above average local seasonal temperatures and occasional rain should be expected in the San Antonio area over much of this winter.

However, Alonzo said there could be a potential for strong cold snaps in late January and into February.

“Of course this is a long-term forecast, but it’s something we’ll keep a very close eye on as we go through the next few months,” Alonzo said.

Digging deeper

Energy Supply Officer Benjamin Ethridge said CPS Energy has a reserve energy generator supply margin of 20% of its total daily supply.

He added inspections and weatherization measures have been made at all of the utility’s energy plants, and the agency is ready to face demands that might be placed on CPS Energy by consumers during wintry weather.

Ethridge also said contingency plans are in place, and CPS Energy has finalized precautions with energy source providers.

“We’re prepared to meet anything that the market throws at us,” Ethridge said.

Richard Medina, chief energy delivery services officer, said CPS Energy crews are properly trained and equipped for wintry weather.

Medina added, if supply and demand issues arise, the utility is ready to handle controlled outages that might be announced by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, the state’s power grid operator.

“Our expectation is that our power would be out 15 minutes or some other duration, depending on ERCOT’s request,” Medina said. “CPS Energy will reduce demand based on 7% of what ERCOT is asking for because that is our load share.”

Get involved

Vice President of Corporate Development Jonathan Tijerina said CPS Energy is launching a winter demand response program Jan. 1-March 30, basing the initiative on the utility’s summer demand response program.

Tijerina said such programs enable CPS Energy to call upon residential and commercial customers to voluntarily reduce their energy consumption on peak demand days to help alleviate strain placed on the utility during particularly hot or cold days.

Tijerina said ratepayers can get credit on their bill upon signing up for a demand response program. Melissa Sorola, CPS Energy’s vice president of corporate communications and marketing, said the utility will promote its four-color-coded system, which reminds customers about each day’s energy supply and demand status.

Sorola also said CPS Energy will continue to promote energy conservation tips, such as setting thermostats at 68 degrees Fahrenheit during the winter, checking for drafts around windows and doors, unplugging electronics not in use, and insulating pipes.

The takeaway

CPS Energy President and CEO Rudy Garza said the utility learned many lessons from its response to Winter Storm Uri and is applying lessons to the organization’s various facets.

“We’re communicating better. Our load shed system is more robust. We’re doing the winterization outside of the peak month,” he added.