What Good is Iraq to Bexar County?
by
Commissioner Tommy Adkisson
August 8, 2002

Far be it for me to march myself right into the cactus patch of foreign affairs as your Commissioner, but I do believe I can use the national discussion as a teaching point for what we should be doing about energy right here in Bexar County.  We can begin by acknowledging the fact that the U.S. imports eight (8) percent of its energy from this member of the group referred to as the "axis of evil".  On a purely local basis, I am thrilled to find an issue such as energy to fight rising tax rates.   Likewise, what we as a County can do to decrease dependence on oil from rogue states should be of paramount importance to all Americans.

So, your County is heading down the road to becoming a national leader in the area of energy conservation.  That may seem like a tall order, but it not only will come to pass, it is long overdue.  As we begin this worthy undertaking, we should strengthen our collaboration with all public entities in the County as well as all that live in and do business in Bexar County. 

To that end, your County has formed the Metropolitan Partnership for Energy. This group consists of the following entities:

  1. Bexar County
  2. City of San Antonio
  3. Solar San Antonio
  4. City Public Service
  5. Alamo Area Council of Governments
  6. VIA Metropolitan Transit System
  7. San Antonio Water System
  8. Greater Bexar County Council of Cities (GBCCC)

Notice that the school districts and the federal government are not in this array of entities.  This is only because a recent bill from the Texas Legislature required energy conservation of neither the federal government as it has no authority to do so nor of school districts.  Still, faced as we are all with tight budgets, federal entities and the school districts already are pursuing energy efficiency on their own. 

In a CPS survey of energy use by the focal entities, CPS found that in 2001, these entities used 2,049,463,026-kilowatt hours of energy.  At 6 cents per kilowatt-hour, this amounts to $122,967,781.56 annually in energy bills!  If we follow the new state law or just plain good sense, we should realize about 5% per year in savings over each of the next 5 years.  That 5% amounts to a possible dollar savings in our County entities of $6,148,389.07 annually for each of the next 5 years.  Added together, this could mean $30,741,945.39 in just 5 years!

To kick this effort off, we will take advantage of the Department of Energy's Rebuild America program and the State of Texas' State Energy Conservation Office, which offer help in the following areas:

  1. Energy Manager
  2. Energy Audits
  3. Lighting Audits
  4. Lone Star Fund
  5. Alternate Fuel Vehicles

I look forward to keeping you abreast of our progress.  I especially look forward to being able to decompress the budget process at least a little.  If we were to multiply our projected experience across Texas and America, I wonder if we would need the 8% from Iraq.  Heck, I wonder if we would not only not be importing 61% of our energy from foreign countries, but would be a net energy-exporting nation! So if we tap into the strength of the national debate on Iraq to fuel the flames of pride in our country's economic independence and security to do the sensible energy thing along the way, I say "Hooray"!

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