KEYNOTE – Rising Stronger Together: CPS Energy’s Customer Satisfaction Journey

Learn how CPS Energy made a remarkable recovery from a significant drop in customer satisfaction following a record-breaking winter storm, which impacted all 254 Texas counties in 2021, in addition to the impacts of a pandemic and rate request. In this session, join both CPS Energy’s President & CEO and Chief Customer Strategy Officer as they share insights into the utility’s strategies for regaining trust and satisfaction including investments in customer experience, weatherization, reliability and power restoration. This discussion will also explore how to mitigate the negative impact that rate increases can have on satisfaction and the positive effect of community engagement in building resilient relationships. Whether you’re in the energy sector or interested in customer satisfaction strategies, this session offers practical insights into strengthening customer relationships for the long haul.



  • DeAnna Hardwick, Chief Customer Strategy Officer, CPS Energy
DeAnna Hardwick leads the Customer Strategy teams composed of Community Impact, Customer Experience Operations, Customer Value Optimization, Enterprise Customer Experience, Resolutions & Solutions, and Corporate Communications & Marketing.
Prior to her current role, she served as Executive Vice President of Customer Strategy. Under her leadership, Customer Strategy developed innovative approaches to serving customers impacted by the pandemic, including our Customer Outreach Resource Effort (CORE) team.
DeAnna started her career at CPS Energy in 2015 when she was hired as a call center leader. Since then, she has risen through the ranks of CPS Energy as a leader with great compassion for our customers.
Before joining CPS Energy, DeAnna spent 15 years working at various Fortune 100 companies, where she was charged with delivering easily accessible and exceptional customer experiences.
DeAnna holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Management from the University of Phoenix and is also a graduate of the University of Idaho Energy Executive Course and the Rice Advanced Management Program. She has participated in multiple leadership programs, including, the National Forum for Black Public Administrators, San Antonio Women’s Chamber of Commerce, Leadership Texas Class of 2022, and Leadership San Antonio Class 47. DeAnna also enjoys supporting initiatives from board rooms, having served on the ITRON Outcome Strategic Advisory Board (OSAB) and has recently been added to the Boysville Board.


  • Rudy Garza, President and CEO, CPS Energy
Rudy D. Garza is the President & CEO of CPS Energy, the nation’s largest community-owned electric and natural gas utility. He is the first Hispanic leader to hold the position. Rudy has more than 25 years of experience as a leader in the utility industry and has served in both the public and private sectors over the course of his career.
Rudy successfully led the company through the approval of two rate cases in 2022 and 2023. He also led the comprehensive strategic engagement plan for Board of Trustee approval of a blended generation planning approach to power our growing community now and in the future. To deliver on CPS Energy’s mission to serve our community, Rudy developed a strategic plan called Vision 2027, a roadmap to guide CPS Energy through the rapid transformation of the utility industry.
Rudy joined CPS Energy in 2012 and previously served as Chief Customer & Stakeholder Engagement Officer and as Senior Vice President of Distribution Service & Operations where he oversaw the maintenance and construction activity of the electric distribution system. He also served the company in the role of Vice President of External Relations.
Rudy has a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin and a Master of Business Administration from the University of North Texas. He continues to serve his Austin alma mater as an Engineering Advisory Board member for the Cockrell School of Electrical Engineering.
Rudy is dedicated to public service and is actively engaged in his community through multiple board roles, including the Brooks Development Authority, greater: SATX, United Way of San Antonio & Bexar County, and the Large Public Power Council.




  • Karl Popham, Senior Consultant, Chartwell, Inc.
Karl launched and led the Electric Vehicles & Emerging Technologies program at Austin Energy, the nations 3rd largest city-owned utility, in 2011 whose program is recognized as “Drive Electric Utility of the Year” by Plugin America and “EVisionary City of North America” by the Electric Drive Transportation Association.
Karl has been a Principal Investigator on over ten electrification/innovation grants and led the utility’s “5 EV Pillar Strategy” advancing transportation electrification through infrastructure, fleets, grid integration, outreach, and equity. Karl has served on several boards including The Energy Thought Summit, Austin Forum on Technology & Society, co-chair of the Tx Public Power Corridor EV workgroup, and co-chair of the Austin Climate Equity Plan workgroup, to name a few.
An active speaker and research contributor, Karl is co-author of “Smart Cities; Applications & Standards” an industry/college textbook published by Springer. Previous roles include Austin Energy’s Chief Information Officer, a Managing Director at Cap Gemini Ernst & Young, and Captain in the US Army Corps of Engineers.


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