City staffers, including the city's Chief Financial Officer, have given the green light to the proposed CPS Energy 4 1/4 percent rate increase, all but assuring it will receive final approval from City Council next month and start showing up on your electric bills in February, 1200 WOAI news reports.


  The staffers said they were convinced that CPS Energy 'worked diligently' to make sure the rate increase was 'as low as possible.'


  CPS Energy, as part of the deal, has committed to working with the city to 'study' CPS Energy's pensions and benefits plans and associated costs, including the very controversial executive bonus program.  The utility has also agreed to address customer service issues in billing and call center development.


  Councilman Rey Saldana says what will be top of mind for him when he votes on the proposal November 7 is the impact it will have on low income homeowners, and how CPS Energy will boost its Residential Energy Assistance Program.


  "What I am comfortable with is that they are adding money to the affordability program," Saldana said.  "For some people that extra two or three dollars a month is going to be a significant burden on the.  I want to make sure they know about the programs that are available to them, to help them pay."


  Saldana told 1200's Stephanie Narvaez that the final proposal is substantially lower than first proposed.


  "They did come to us with a 5% increase, but that has been reduced to 4 1/4%," he said.  "That is mainly because they are reducing the amount of money in their bonus program, and that is going right into reducing the rate for our residents."


  CPS Energy CEO Doyle Beneby says the utility will be more 'pro active' when it comes to identifying people who may qualify for the REAP program.


  "We will identify those who have multiple late payments, and see if they qualify for the increased affordability discount," he said.