1 in 5 customers of San Antonio's CPS Energy is more than 30 days behind on their utility bills

The $159 million cash deficit could lead to a credit downgrade for the utility, trustee John Steen warned.

click to enlarge Although CPS would usually cut power to customers behind on their bills, the city-owned utility is unable to do so due to the ongoing heat wave. - Twitter / CPS Energy
Twitter / CPS Energy
Although CPS would usually cut power to customers behind on their bills, the city-owned utility is unable to do so due to the ongoing heat wave.
One in five CPS customers is more than 30 days behind on their utility bills, resulting in a $159 million cash deficit for the city-owned utility, the Express-News reports.

CPS Energy Trustee John Steen called the 160,000 delinquent accounts a "crisis" during CPS's annual monthly board meeting on Monday, according to the daily. The backlog in bills comes as consumers nationwide struggle to make ends meet during the worst inflation in 40 years.

At the onset of the pandemic, CPS paused home nonpayment disconnections but resumed the practice in February. Although CPS expected its bad debt to decline as the economy reopened, the number of accounts behind on their bills has stayed the same due to increases in the cost of energy, while wages have mostly remained stagnant, the Express-News reports.

This February, CPS cut power to 1,300 homes, 85% of which were reconnected after residents settled their outstanding bills or set up payment plans, according to the Express-News. Even so, CPS had to again stop disconnections amid the summer heat.

Steen said he worries that the $159 million in accumulated debt will lead credit rating agencies to downgrade CPS's rating, further straining its financial woes, the daily reports.

Even so, CPS generates $3 billion in revenue annually, so $160 million in missing payments, or 5% of the utility's total annual revenue, is "material, but not unmanageable," said CPS Energy CEO Rudy Garza during Monday's meeting.

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