As CPS Energy seeks rate hike, new report shows top execs spent big on steak dinners, chauffeurs

CPS Energy CEO Paula Gold Williams speaks during an event. - CPS Energy
CPS Energy
CPS Energy CEO Paula Gold Williams speaks during an event.
CPS Energy's two former top executives used their company purchasing cards to pay for thousands in steak dinners, chauffeur services and other extravagances, according to an analysis of financial records by TV station KSAT.

The report on the officials' spending drew condemnation from Mayor Ron Nirenberg, who said the municipally owned utility's spending must be "reined in," according to KSAT. The story aired the same day as members of city council pushed back at a proposed CPS rate increase, saying the utility first needs to rebuild public trust.

CPS, which has suffered repeated black eyes since widespread outages during February's winter storm, is seeking a 3.85% rate increase starting in March, the Express-News reports. That would hike an average customer's bill by $5 per month.

Based on its review 4,300 pages of requested CPS financial records, KSAT reports that the utility's former chief operating officer, Fred Bonewell, racked up $53,444.53 in 2019 card purchases — higher than the median household income in San Antonio that same year.

Among the items charged to his card, according to the station: a $683 meal at Saltgrass Steak House, at least three meals running more than $600 each at Paesano's and 100 expensed meals at the same Northside brunch spot.

In contrast, CPS Energy fed rank-and-file workers were fed "hot dogs and chili purchased from Sam’s Club" during July 2019 employee engagement meetings, the station also reported, citing purchasing records.

What's more, former CEO Paula Gold-Williams used her card for $14,000 in luxury chauffeur fares, including a seven-mile trip from a Washington D.C. hotel to the airport that cost $225, according to the station's reporting.

Bonewell resigned in October after a separate KSAT report looked into ethics complaints filed against him over an allegedly insensitive racial remark he made during a meeting and for spending habits.

That same month, Gold-Williams announced plans to step down her from her role and leave the utility completely in January.

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