Do You Know We Are Sitting On an Energy Spindletop?
by
Commissioner Tommy Adkisson
July 22, 2004

That's right!  We are all sitting right on top of a conservation and renewable energy Spindletop!  As good Texans you surely know the story about the two prospectors looking for oil at Spindletop near Beaumont.  One gave up after prospecting for ten years and the other, well he discovered Spindletop.  The oil from Spindletop gushed to the extent of 80,000 barrels daily till they finally capped it several days later.  All previous oil wells had only produced a mere 50 barrels a day!  Imagine the thrill of the prospector who struck oil and the agony of the one who gave up. 

This must have come as a shocker to those who witnessed the oil spouting 260 feet in the air.  Far less dramatic, but I submit, more important perhaps than any Spindletop is our County's entry and our Country's march toward conservation and renewable energy.  So it was that Bexar County's first-ever Energy Manager Vince Fuentez and his boss, Infrastructure Director Gabe Perez presented Commissioner's Court with a report on Energy Efforts in Bexar County.

All of these efforts at present are focused primarily on the Bexar County Courthouse, the old red sandstone building built in 1896 and added on several times afterwards.  Other projects will soon follow.

Current or Implemented County Projects & Annual Savings

Solar Thermal (hot water) Heater - $52,400.00

CPS Meter Rate Schedule Change - $30,480.00

Honeywell Maintenance Contract - $95,347.00

Proposed Courthouse Projects & Annual Savings

Lighting Retrofit at Courthouse - $30,000.00

Seal Building Envelope - $70,000.00

Additional Door-South End - $40,000.00

Energy Management System - $83,000.00

Combined Annual Impact of Program: $401,227.00!

So what's the catch?  Surely there cannot be a $401,227.00 annual savings without any expenditure by the County.  That is right.  The investment required by the County will be a combined total of $763,500.00.  Given the $401,227.00 in annual savings and dividing it into the investment of $763,500.00 gives us a payback timeframe of 1.90 years.  Once paid back, we save $401,227.00 annually as far as the eye can see!

And this is just the beginning!  We have numerous other buildings.  We have other day-to-day impacts such as the numerous appliances often seen at the workplace.  Some should be shared and some should go or be metered and paid for by individual users. 

I cannot imagine how we could not save around $1.5 to $2 million annually beginning in about five years.  And that's just applying conservation and renewable energy approaches to Bexar County.  Our University Health System is another wonderful opportunity!  But think about the implications of this for our State, our Nation and yourself!

This will not happen "overnight".  Nor will it be without challenges and perhaps a few setbacks.  Still, "There is no growth inside the comfort zone."  Given the prospects for conservation and renewables, I am very excited.  And we've only just begun!

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