District 7 Councilman Cris Medina said he believes it’s bad timing to issue bonuses to City Public Service executives and staffers because of a tough economy.
“People are trying to make ends meet and CPS energy is issuing out these types of bonuses; very surprising," said Medina. "And certainly the comments I’ve gotten from my constituents are that they’re excessive.”
Medina questioned whether bonus money could be used for to keeping hook-up fees down for homeowners and businesses, expanding the utility assistance program for seniors, or conducting energy audits to make homes more efficient. But CPS spokesperson Lisa Lewis said the employees earned a total of $16 million in bonuses because they all achieved strict thresholds required for bonus pay.
“The intent of incentive pay is to demand great performance and CPS Energy had the best performance year in its history in 2011 and our employees earned a part of that," said Lewis.
Lewis said when employees perform well, there are fewer accidents, injuries and illnesses, and those are savings that are passed along to customers. It hasn’t been determined if CPS will ask for a rate increase next year, but it did defer an increase this year.
Current rates are 9 cents per kilowatt hour, the lowest, she said, in the nation.