Let's Declare War on Weakness!
Commissioner Tommy Adkisson
January 2, 2003

Peace through strength!  That's an old slogan that never has left my thoughts as a citizen nor especially now as an elected public official.  And so it was just this kind of strength that has captured my imagination about how all the sun in Texas and beyond might be harnessed to regain economic independence in the same spirit of '76 our forefathers passed down over the years since the great Declaration!

Actually as important to the solar rays God sends us practically daily is our God-given brains and our guts to make provisions for our future.  One such seemingly lonely individual who has been laboring in the vineyards of renewable energy for many years now is Kent Farmer.  He is the owner of the Power Store at 930 Broadway, the first place in Bexar County to "reverse meter", yes that means his meter most of the time actually runs backward leaving CPS owing him money for the electricity he sent into its grid.  What he told and showed me holds promise for the future.  But we must listen carefully and act if we are to profit from his work and that of others like him.

Mr. Farmer sells renewable energy generators such as solar panels and windmills.  Since we have never much used any forms of renewable energy, he faces a public that is rather unacquainted with his products but that when knowledgeable, become rather excited about the potential of solar energy.  Cattle guard gates and school zone flashing lights are two of the most popular applications of solar photovoltaic energy visible to the public.  However, Santa Rosa North and your Bexar County Jail Annex are the two finest local examples of solar thermal energy with generation of 13,000 and 30,000 gallons respectively of hot water per day!

Power Prescription

Kent Farmer and I discussed the fact that the average home uses 1,200 Kilowatt Hours of energy on a monthly basis.  He first prescribes that the energy demand be lowered to 600 Kilowatts through installation of low energy window screens and other conservation techniques readily available to homeowners and business owners.  That reduces to 20 Kilowatt Hours the daily need (600 Kilowatt Hours divided by 30 days).  If you assume 6 hours of sunlight daily, divide 20 Kilowatt Hours needed daily by the 6 hours of locally available daily sunlight to generate 3.33 Kilowatt Hours per hour. 

Converted, 3.33 Kilowatts equals 3,333-watt hours.  Solar panels sold at the Power Store generate 120 watts each.  To determine how many panels are required to deliver the necessary energy to power the home, divide 3,333 by 120 and you get 27, the number of panels needed to power your home.  With the panels costing $575 each, the total panels cost would be $15,525.00.  Add to this essential equipment and installation and for $25,000.00 you have all you need to run on your own power!

The solar panels are guaranteed for 25 years but have an estimated actual life of around 50 years!

And just how will this affect the number one revenue generator for the City of San Antonio: the pass-through charge?  With the State of Texas requiring more and more renewable energy usage, CPS can obtain credit from the State for all of the renewable energy being spun off into its grid.  Most importantly, CPS can buy the electricity from residences and businesses wholesale and sell it retail!  Surely there is enough difference between wholesale and retail to make up for any drop in pass-through charge revenues, to say nothing about the never-ending demand for building incredibly expensive power plants.  

This may not work for all residents at present but it holds out great hope for your City, County, School District, Federal Government and other governmental entities to realize millions of dollars in savings for way out into the distance of time.  Also very importantly, perhaps even critically is the fact that this decentralizes the generation of energy.  In decentralization, we achieve insulation from the mindless acts of terrorists who could cause an interruption in our service from the big power plants.  We will be far more able to deal with blackouts and brownouts when our energy is generated locally. 

I know it does not feel much like we are at war at this moment.  However, we should always be preparing.  Nothing prepares us quite like a nation taking action offensively or defensively with a great economy as its foundation.  Let's roll!

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