An Energy Manager for Bexar County!
Commissioner Tommy Adkisson
April 15, 2004
Way back around 1971 when I worked for then State Representative Bill Finck, a reporter had asked my boss what the three main issues in the upcoming Legislative Session were. He responded, "Money, money, and money". Over the years since then I have learned that truer words were never more cleverly spoken, whether one is observing government at any level or seemingly in life itself. In the latter category however, I make an exception for both spiritual as well as physical health.
In keeping with the ever-present vigil over the limited resources of our County as it addresses unlimited demands for those resources, I am very pleased to report to you that this last Monday, Vincent Fuentez became the first energy manager ever for Bexar County. I am equally pleased and proud to report to you that I have sought and secured $25,000.00 from the State Energy Conservation Office (SECO) and $25,000.00 from Rebuild America, a partnership between the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Energy to help underwrite this critical position.
The energy manager's position should more than pay for its work in energy savings as the County and our University Health System spends roughly $7.5 million each year on electricity alone! Senate Bill 5 passed by the Legislature recently sets forth the goal of reducing energy in certain units of Texas' local government's consumption by 5% annually for five years. This was not however, the extent to which proponents of SB 5 thought local government could reduce energy consumption. Given that we are steeped in the ways of our energy-rich and wasteful past, it is believed that we can reduce energy expenditures by considerably more than the 5% goal annually. We will attempt to reduce by 25% our expenditures over the next five years and in the not-too-distant future, attempt 50%!
With respect to Mr. Fuentez, although a youngish 28 years old, he is an engineering graduate from Stanford University and has seven years of experience as an energy manager working in several positions. His job definition includes among other things, analyzing county operations and construction for maximum energy efficiency and use of renewables. Additionally he will ensure that the energy management system is running at an optimal level.
He is hired by a very energy conscious Commissioner's Court, specifically regarding conservation and renewable energy. First of all, we have the State's largest solar thermal (hot water) heater at the Jail Annex. It heats 30,000 gallons for use at the jail and when paid for in a couple of years, will save the County approximately $76,000.00 annually! Bexar County Commissioner's Court also recently passed its first serious Energy Policy wherein it established a Bexar County Energy Council, an internal committee or team that will include all major elected officials and administrators.
Bexar County is also a member of several organizations that are dedicated to increase energy conservation measures and integration of renewable energy measures into government operations. Among these are the National Association of Counties (NACO) Energy Efficiency Network, the local Metropolitan Partnership for Energy (MPE) consisting of the City of San Antonio, CPS, SAWS and Bexar County, and the Texas Energy Partnership of the State Energy Conservation Office. By its strategic alliance and the acquisition of some of the most promising energy leadership talent available, Bexar County dedicates itself to being a regional, statewide and national leader in energy savings.
In a State that has been the talk of the energy world during much of the 20th Century, the proud home of the Texas Railroad Commission that in years past regulated the price of a barrel of oil, worldwide and the home of gushers like Spindletop, it is hard to change our long-ingrained habits and perceptions. But with Texas importing $7 to $9 billion worth of energy annually and with the possibility of terrorist or technical interruption of central power plants, energy conservation and serious promotion of renewable energy must be at the top of the list of how we wisely steward the limited dollars referred to above. Just thought you should know about this very important development in your County. Welcome Mr. Fuentez!