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San Antonio residents torn over proposed power bill rebate

City council members Thursday debated whether to spend some budget surplus money on a one-time electricity bill rebate, worth about $31.

SAN ANTONIO — Some San Antonio residents are not convinced a proposed, one-time rebate applied to their electricity bills would offer meaningful relief from soaring power costs. 

Because customers are paying near-record prices for electricity this summer, CPS Energy collected more revenue than it expected to. About $50 million of the utility's surplus returns to its owner, the city, for discretionary spending.

City leaders Thursday unveiled a draft proposal of their spending plan for the coming fiscal year, which uses the surplus to pay for a one-time kickback to all CPS Energy customers. The rebate, worth $31 on average, would cut ratepayers' October bills. 

But the idea failed to garner consensus support. Some council members argue the rebate is not meaningful enough, since it likely would not erase most customers' year-over price increases. 

Council members are split on how to spend the money. Some proposed investing the $50 million into weatherization and energy efficiency programs, which could save more money during a future, brutal summer. 

Other policymakers would redirect the money to infrastructure improvements or domestic violence prevention programs. 

Residents like Jessica Clark are equally perplexed. 

"It helps. I would be very grateful for that (rebate)," she told KENS 5. "I think I'm torn. I mean, I wouldn't mind it being spent somewhere else." 

Clark says she's paying about $100 more for electricity than she has in prior years. CPS Energy leaders said customers June 2022 bills were up about $75 from June 2021. 

"I am trying to conserve that energy, like CPS says to do," she said. "But I don't see it making a difference at all."

Other customers expressed sentiments about the proposed rebate similar to Clark's in social media posts.

City leaders agree a rebate merits consideration, but they must sign off on the idea by the end of September for the kickback to appear on October bills. 

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