Two green thumbs up to our earth-friendly team members

Today, CPS Energy’s 3,000 employees are proud to celebrate Earth Day! Along with planning and providing for the energy needs of our growing community, we’ve made it our priority to maintain a strong environmental commitment. Despite challenges brought on by the pandemic, we’ve remained focused on keeping the air clean, recycling nearly all of our materials, and preserving natural resources for future generations.

And being Environmentally Responsible isn’t just something we do at work. Our team members use Earth-friendly practices to benefit the environment in their own backyards.

While she enjoys learning about the latest technologies in our industry, Karen Birkelbach, Enterprise Information Technology Service Delivery Manager, loves being innovative in her garden. She enjoys fresh air and sunshine while checking on the progress of her home-grown produce. Her garden became an important source of veggies during the early months of the pandemic when our community experienced food scarcity.

“My family loved the fresh foods so much I decided to expand and grow a bigger variety of veggies,” said Karen. “Spring and summer gardening gave me an appreciation for browsing seed catalogs even during the winter months!”

Karen Biirkelback
Karen Birkelbach, Enterprise Information Technology Service Delivery Manager at CPS Energy

Karen initially started with a ground bed and has since expanded to two raised garden beds. She’s even placed a compost bin at each bed and fills the bins with kitchen scraps and plant trimmings. Rather than using a commercial fertilizer, Karen spreads the compost across the garden to give her plants the nutrients they need in a natural, organic way. The novice gardener has even discovered a natural way to keep her plants bug-free. She applies neem oil, a natural pesticide, and a white powdery substance called diatomaceous earth made from the fossilized remains of algae to keep out bugs.

Karen is not the only CPS Energy employee with a green thumb. Sherry Spurlock, Gas Development & Analysis Program Manager, turned her garden into a thriving habitat for bees and butterflies, which play a pivotal role in pollination.

“Besides tons of bees that regularly hang out, I also get many monarch butterflies in my garden,” said Sherry. “They lay eggs on a butterfly weed and I’ve had the joy of watching a great many little caterpillars develop full-cycle into newly hatched monarchs – some outdoors and some from a safe habitat I built indoors.”

Monarchs are known for their transcontinental migration, which spans 3,000 miles. According to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, monarch numbers in North America have declined over the past two decades due to habitat loss, climate change and the use of pesticides that kill milkweeds, which the Monarchs depend on for survival. Pesticides, drought, habitat destruction and climate change also pose as dangers for bees. Sherry is happy to provide a mini-refuge for bees and butterflies in her own backyard.

Sherry Spurlock with her butterflies
Sherry Spurlock poses with Monarch butterflies from her garden.

“What fun to release these beautiful creatures to continue their important role as pollinators and contribute to the health of our plant ecosystem!”

Team members like Sherry and Karen provide a small snapshot of the big heart we have for nature and the environment. Being Environmentally Responsible is one of our Company’s Guiding Pillars and it’s one we don’t take lightly. Here is just a sample of CPS Energy’s achievements and actions that demonstrate our environmental commitment:

  • By using treated wastewater from the San Antonio River instead of water from the Edwards Aquifer, we save about 11 billion gallons of valuable drinking water every year. That’s especially critical during periods of drought like we’re experiencing right now. Over the past 50 years, we’ve saved enough water to fill Canyon Lake three times over.
  • We recycle most of our waste materials such as cardboard, metals, tires and batteries. Over the past several years, our Company has recycled more than 93% of its waste materials on average. 
  • Along with ranking 5th in the U.S. for solar cities as a Shining City and being ranked #12 in the 100 Best Fleets, we were recognized on the 2020 CDP A List as one of 88 global cities leading the way on environmental action. San Antonio is the only city in Texas on this list, which highlights cities that are setting climate action targets and laying out plans, all geared to continue lowering emissions.

Take a moment to check out our latest Environmental Sustainability & Stewardship Report for more highlights on how your home-grown utility is working to protect our environment for future generations.

Sam Taylor

Sam is part of the Corporate Communications team at CPS Energy.