CPS Energy's Board of Trustees will do some shuffling at the end of January. Chair Homer Guevara will step down from that position Feb. 1, Vice Chair Nora Chávez will take Guevara's seat, and Trustee Edward Kelley will become vice chair. Both selections were unanimously approved by the board during its regularly scheduled meeting on Monday afternoon.
Guevara is an economics professor at Northwest Vista College where he has set up a scholarship fund with his CPS Energy Board compensation. The scholarship is for economics, business, and government majors with a GPA of more than 2.0. Several students attended the meeting to show their appreciation for Guevara, who kept his remarks light and short.
"It's been a pleasure," he said. But this was no farewell, he'll remain on the board as a trustee after Feb. 1.
Chair-elect Chávez is managing director of Texas Public Finance group for Stifel Nicolaus & Company, Inc.
"I certainly do look forward to it. It's been a pleasure serving as a board member for the last four years," she said. "Energy is not my forte ... but fortunately finance is."
She praised Guevara's enthusiastic support of CPS Energy's New Energy Economy initiatives, including the purchase of the Rio Nogales gas plant, the utility's commercial and residential solar programs, and more.
"He also spent a lot of time working with staff and (fellow board members) in trying to eliminate or defer rate increases," she said.
CPS Energy announced in November that a projected rate increase in 2016 will not be needed, the result of "continued diligent streamlining of our business processes, lower debt costs and increased sales of wholesale electricity."
Vice Chair-elect Kelley is a San Antonio native who retired as president and CEO of USAA Real Estate in 2005.
The board consists of four citizens, one from each geographic quadrant of CPS Energy's service area. The mayor serves as an ex-officio member. Derrick Howard, executive director of Freeman Coliseum, also serves as a trustee.
During the meeting, the board also approved the public utility's more than $1.2 billion and $1.1 billion budgets for 2016 and 2017, respectively, and heard from staff about progress being made in its customer service enhancements. CEO Doyle Beneby gave a report concerning staff development and education, talent management, and other employee programs.
An agenda item concerning CEO compensation was not publicly discussed or acted on during this meeting, though it was discussed during a closed executive session.
UPDATED on Tuesday, Jan. 26 at 5 p.m.: Board Chair Guevara shared the following statement with the Rivard Report regarding the CEO compensation agenda item:
Periodically, the board reviews and evaluates the performance and success of Mr. Beneby in his role as President and CEO of CPS Energy. As I transition out of the role of chair, I wanted to ensure that we discussed his successes during the past couple of years. I included a place holder on the agenda, in the event that we decided to take any action. We opted not to take action today.
Mr. Beneby's performance remains strong, and we're appreciative of his commitment to continuous improvement in operational efficiency, employee development, safety, and financial health. Under his leadership, CPS Energy remains a national leader in innovation, while continuing to provide reliable service with bills among the lowest in the nation.
*Featured/top image: CPS Energy Board of Trustees Chair Homer Guevara (right) listens to praise from Vice Chair Nora Chávez after the board unanimously approved her election to take over as chair. Photo by Iris Dimmick.