Texas Renewables Must Step Up!
Commissioner Tommy Adkisson
November 17, 2005
The Texas Renewable Energy Industries Association last Monday held its annual conference and I spoke on "How Renewables Will Share the Load" relative to our energy needs. Bexar County was the only local government asked to present because of its efforts in the area of energy conservation and renewables. The audience consisted of those in the renewable energy business---solar, wind, geothermal, E-85 fuel and other kinds of energy.
In a couple of short weeks, we will celebrate our many infinite blessings. Historically we Americans and Texans in particular, have been more than blessed. However, I have long thought that blessings not only come from God, but from our own actions to secure them.
Why Care About Energy?
Just for starters, it affects our survival! A world of 6.4 billion people, on the way to 9 billion or more, needs more protein than the planet's croplands can generate from biologically provided nitrogen. Our species has become as physically dependent on industrially produced nitrogen fertilizer as it is on soil, sunshine and water. And that means we're hooked on natural gas!
A nation of solar hot water heaters could go a long way to replace the existing demand for gas heating so we avoid the coming shortfall.
We have only known a real democracy since the Great Declaration of 1776! What happens when people lose faith in their government? Not out of the realm of possibilities when anger builds is revolution. And, revolution is one of the most costly ways to address that which ails a people.
America should set the example for governance and that cannot take place in an energy-challenged country. What happens in America will certainly be noted and followed elsewhere across the globe!
A variety of challenges confront the economy. Our federal budget deficit is huge and will inevitably cascade responsibilities downward to state and local governments. Our State lacks resolve to gain new revenues necessitating unfunded mandates to local units of government. Local government is often limited to sales and property taxes.
Other issues - The ever-increasing price of security against terrorism must be factored into the demand for services. The cost of social security for the coming tidal wave of retiring baby boomers who are far more numerous for their parents than baby boomers children are to them. And a seemingly imponderable question that should be asked is, "What is the price of energy when you can't get any?"
The unthinkable - What happens if technical malfunction or terrorist acts cut us off from our energy supply? If such occurs, we will wish we had invested in distributed generation from renewables!
What We Have Done & Are Doing in Bexar County
Given all of the above, I just thought it would be a no-brainer that we in Bexar County would squeeze every ounce of energy out of renewable energy sources and implement conservation in ways we previously have not thought possible.
Annual Energy Savings (1/2004-8/05): $354,672.00
Projected Annual Energy Savings: $540,000.00
Total Annual Future Savings: $894,672.00
As part of our continuing commitment to conservation of energy and clean air as well as decongested expressways, your County is the largest seller of the VIA Big Pass. This allows Bexar County employees to take the bus for $5.00 per month and travel as often as they want. County employees have taken advantage of this enlightened money-saver by using the Big Pass in monthly numbers of 225 in 2001 to over 800 in September, 2005!
Bexar County also opened the first public E-85 station in Texas and the only dual-alternative fuel (E-85 & Propane) station between San Antonio and San Diego, California. This fuel is cleaner burning, close to gasoline efficiency, at least 85% domestically produced from Texas and American corn farmers. We have already issued 300 access cards and anticipate issuing thousands!
The word "crisis" in Mandarin means both danger and opportunity. Why don't we look back as elder statesman some day off in the distant future and be confident that we saw the danger and so completely embraced opportunity that we rekindled as never before the greatest country on the face of planet earth?