CPS Energy President Gets 6% Raise, $260K Bonus

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CPS Energy President & Chief Executive Officer Paula Gold-Williams is congratulated before the official announcement of her position at a CPS Energy Board Meeting on July 25, 2016. Photo by Scott Ball.

Scott Ball / Rivard Report

CPS Energy President and CEO Paula Gold-Williams

Praising her work at the head of the municipally owned electric and gas utility, CPS Energy’s board of trustees approved a raise and bonus for the utility’s top official.

At its June meeting Monday, the board unanimously approved a base salary increase for President and CEO Paula Gold-Williams’ of $26,700 from $445,000 to $471,700.

The board also approved a bonus of $260,629.25 for Gold-Williams’ work in the utility’s 2018-2019 fiscal year, which began Feb. 1, 2017, and ended Jan. 31. Gold-Williams is also eligible for an additional $106,036.25 bonus in 2019 for work performed last fiscal year under a long-term incentive program.

The board awarded the salary increase and bonus despite Gold-Williams missing three of six performance metrics, according to the results of a review by consultant ScottMadden.

“The metrics are really difficult metrics,” said Board of Trustees Vice-Chair Ed Kelley, who chairs the board’s personnel committee. “They’re not creampuffs.”

The metrics Gold-Williams missed relate to workplace safety, environmental compliance, and the financial performance of CPS Energy’s generating units. Gold-Williams did achieve three metrics related to customer satisfaction, electricity reliability, and staying within the utility’s budget.

Until recently, Gold-Williams was alone among the top officials of CPS Energy, the San Antonio Water System, and the City for having her compensation tied to an independent, third-party review.

That changed this year, with the SAWS board approving a review by Scott Madden of its president and CEO Robert Puente’s annual performance.

City Council last week approved a three-year $279,000 agreement with Segal Waters Consulting to review City Manager Sheryl Sculley’s performance, along with the City’s internal auditor, clerk, and presiding judge of municipal court.

Last year, Gold-Williams also missed three of six performance metrics and earned a bonus of $290,386 and a salary increase from $415,000 to $445,000.

Gold-Williams’ contract states that she is eligible each year for a performance bonus of up to 40 percent of her base salary, Kelley said. ScottMadden’s scores account for 80 percent of Gold-William’s compensation review, with the other 20 percent at the discretion of the board, he said.

Asked how the board translates the performance review into salary and bonus figures, Kelley said that some metrics are weighted more highly than others, though he was not able to specify off-hand what the exact weighting for each metric was.

CPS Energy officials did not share the full reviews by ScottMadden or Willis Towers Watson, another consultant that compared Gold-Williams’ compensation to the bosses of 20 other similarly sized utilities across the industry.

Kelley said Willis Towers Watson found that Gold-Williams’ compensation is 74 percent below 50th percentile of the 20 utilities in that peer group.

“Could she make more money? I think undoubtedly the answer is yes,” Kelley said. “But she likes what’s she’s doing. … The biggest issue we have with Paula is, we keep telling her, ‘This is a marathon.’ She’s handling it like a sprint. She is working day and night.”

This year is Gold-Williams’ second at the head of CPS Energy, the utility serving roughly 810,000 electrical customers and 340,000 gas customers in the San Antonio area. A San Antonio native who came up through the utility's ranks, Gold-Williams had previously served as interim CEO after the departure of previous CEO Doyle Beneby in 2015.

In April, the utility's board approved a $2.66 billion 2018-2019 budget that did not include rate increases for customers, but Gold-Williams in April raised the possibility of increasing rates the following year.

Other board members had high praise for Gold-Williams, who has been recognized with numerous industry awards since she got the utility’s top job.

“CPS Energy had a great year,” Board Chair John Steen told Gold-Williams before the vote. “Your execution all the way around is outstanding. We appreciate everything you do.”

Mayor Ron Nirenberg, a CPS Energy board member in his official capacity, called the board’s process “professional and defensible” in “an era of heightened scrutiny on salaries in the public sector, particularly CEOs.”

“She has worked so well with the citizens of San Antonio to address the major concerns of reliability, affordability, as well as achieving the resiliency that we want as a city,” Nirenberg continued. “I’m proud that Paula Gold-Williams is the CEO of CPS Energy.”

Senior reporter Iris Dimmick contributed to this article.

12 thoughts on “CPS Energy President Gets 6% Raise, $260K Bonus

  1. This is a government run utility monopoly. Unfortunately we aren’t given a voice in the matter. “Shut up and put up.”

  2. OOOHhhh lars… This is Compensation well Spent. Future Forward depends on Energy/Water for San Antonio region!!! It will get hotter and hotter from Now ON!!
    Bexar 2099

  3. I think missing safety and financial performance metrics would be important. Ed Kelley not knowing the weight of the metrics is unfortunate but not surprising. He came from USAA where everyone in the Real Estate Company lived off of healthy bonuses. In regards to bonuses, he only knows bigger is better.

  4. This is just shameful!!!! Is it not a public utility? Why now lower the rates or better still offer up the monies in “stewardship awards” for those in need.

    • San Antonio’s energy rates are among the lowest in the country. We’re lucky to have a great local utility with great leadership at the helm.

      • Unfortunately, San Antonio is not among the lowest in the country. They are in the mid range. This was easily searchable among the several Energy comparison websites.

        We should remain vigilant, and have a greater say. She missed her mark. She failed 3 out of the 6 metrics. That they were “difficult” is of no consequence. She accepted the job with those metrics, and that’s what she gets paid for. If she fails, she shouldn’t be awarded any bonus or any raise. If any of us failed like that, we would be looking for another job.

  5. I don’t have a problem paying people what they are worth. Her salary does not seem out of line to me, when compared to others in the industry.
    Perhaps the comparison which should be made is to the salaries of other larger Municipal Utilities. I’d be curious to know how her salary compares to that of the General Manager for the Los Angles Department of Water and Power (The largest Municipal Elecric Utility in the nation).

  6. Once again, our mayor hides behind the other board member’s and justifies this ridiculous bonus pay package. How can any employee miss three metrics and get a bonus?
    Trying to justify this pay raise bonus by continuing to mention how other utilities in other cities pay more is not a good defense.
    You have city workers that will never make this kind of money. Even the President of the United States does not get paid as much as this person and the whole country would be up in arms if the president received a bonus of more than 200k. In the meantime, our utility rates keep climbing because it’s hot. What a joke.

  7. Given the low wages paid to people who actually work in San Antonio, her salary/bonuses are extreme.
    The CPS Board are for the most part people who are hardly reflective of our community. Rubber stamping morons.

  8. 1st- Her CEO salary is not compared to Municipalities, but to Investor owned companies. She is the highest paid City owned utility CEO in the USA.
    2nd- If her employees miss half of their goals they are placed on a Performance Improvement Plan and receive no pay raise or bonus. or fired
    3rd- the rates are not that cheap, since they include what they pay for renewable energy in your fuel charge. Divide your KWH used by what you pay. If competition came in they would get crushed. Sad for SA residents

  9. A grade of 50% is usually failing yet a bonus of more than 50% of base salary
    is being awarded . Are there any circumstances when the CPS CEO actually suffers a reduction in yearly compensation for poor performance ? If not something is wrong with this “merit” based compensation system.

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