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Paula Gold-Williams is listening

Stephen Hill
Sr. Content Development Specialist

CPS Energy shared its impressive metrics at the DistribuTech 2020 opening keynote

Paula Gold-Williams remembers when utility executives talked only about “rate payers.” These days she is thankful there’s a culture of listening. And most of that listening is to employees, customers and community leaders about how energy should blend and lead the city of San Antonio.

As CEO and President of the CPS Energy, the nation’s largest municipal power and gas utility, Gold-Williams explained how there’s a misconception about what utilities actually do. “Some people think what we do is easy, that we’re just in the wires and electric business, but we’re in the people business.”

“But more than ever, we need to pay attention to customers,” said Gold-Williams. “Customers are the heart, voice and reason for where we’re going in the future.”

Gold-Williams, speaking at the opening keynote address for DistribuTech 2020, in San Antonio, spoke forthrightly about her company’s strategy for customer interaction, and future growth by sharing CPS Energy’s six pillars for the company’s future:

  • Reliability
  • Customer affordability
  • Security
  • Environmental responsibility
  • Resiliency
  • Financial responsibility

These pillars are guiding CPS Energy, and its 3,100 employees for future growth. CPS is even embracing disruptive technology, and thinking long term about the future fuels that will generate power in San Antonio for the next 30 years.

“In 2050, our community can get to net zero emissions,” said Gold-Williams. A lofty goal that she admitted sparked some “spirited discussions.” In addition to the six pillars, the other key to achieving net zero emissions will be flexibility.

“We have a flexible path,” said Gold-Williams. “And we’re becoming adaptive to taking risk, and flexible in what fuels we use going forward.”

This involves a “flex power bundle” for CPS energy, including coal, renewables, natural gas and nuclear. Clearly though the choice is to move to more renewable forms of energy, especially solar and storage.

“We want a meaningful amount of solar in our future energy mix,” said Gold-Williams. “And we’re also planning on up to 50 MW of battery storage.”

Overall, the community has spoken about what it expects from CPS Energy, and apparently it wants everything: reliability, low-cost power from responsible fuel sources, and a secure grid that protects customer data.

“We’re excited to gather this information from the community,” said Gold-Williams. “It’s customers, not rate payers who are demanding more from our company, and we’re trying to stay ready.”

“All that said,” Gold-Williams added, “we’re listening to our community.”


We’ll be covering the entire DISTRIBUTECH 2020 conference live on the blog and on Twitter and  LinkedIn. Come join the conversation. Or visit us onsite at the booth at 2809.


Got a little FOMO about DistribuTECH? Fear you’re missing out? Then it’s time for you to check out a few of our blogs already up and live from the conference featuring both industry insiders and local utilities, too:


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