Energy Independence More About Resolve Than Reserves
by
Commissioner Tommy Adkisson
March 13, 2008

Gasoline

Talk about sticker shock! I just filled up my gas tank and the price per gallon was over $2.53 per gallon. It took over $35.00 to fill 'er up!

Friends, the solution to this subservience program we're in is not rocket science! Bottom line: It is about our resolve to be independent and to discipline ourselves back to sanity in fuel pricing. According to the Rocky Mountain Institute, "When we last paid attention, during 1977-85, oil use fell 17%, net oil imports fell 42% and imports from the Persian Gulf fell 87%! OPEC lost half its market, destroying its pricing power for a decade. If we'd repeated that 5.2% annual gain in oil productivity starting in January, 2001, Persian Gulf imports could have been gone by May, 2002"!

The key to the huge 1977-85 oil savings was Detroit's 7.6 miles per gallon better cars, but then light vehicle efficiency stagnated through the 1990's. I have an idea: Why don't we accelerate the shift to solar vehicles at least in certain areas of our economy (certain government, targeted private applications) and drive the price of gasoline back to 1980's prices?

The San Antonio-based Power Store has engineered a solar power prototype from a canceled Ford electric car that in its current preliminary configuration has zero emissions, zero noise and zero gas consumption. It runs for four hours before needing to recharge. This particular model reaches 45 miles per hour very quickly. Naturally higher speed and all the amenities of a modern vehicle are required. Kent Farmer, the owner of the Power Store, himself a former University instructor as well as a former research scientist for the government says that all the technology exists at present to produce such a vehicle that achieves the usual higher speeds desired with all the comforts we have come to expect in our vehicles.

There are still other solutions that may have appeal. This Fall, your County is going to open a dual alternative fuel station on I-35 near Splashtown, offering both E-85 (Ethanol 85%-Gas 15%) and propane. Ethanol made from agricultural products like corn allows us to put money into the pockets of Texas and American farmers instead of shipping huge amounts of our wealth to OPEC suppliers that are distant, uncertain and hostile! The use of competitive alternative fuels like E-85 will allow us to dilute the demand for conventional gasoline and provide lower prices.

Electricity

With all the discussion of attracting new industry to town, a few of the basic components of the attraction to our economically competitive community are dependable and economical electricity. City Public Service (CPS Energy) is doing a good job of providing cheap energy. What we must now do is challenge our energy leadership and community to give ample focus to conservation and renewables. We must take our destiny into our own hands instead of needlessly playing into the hands of market forces like the oil cartel called OPEC, only in this case the railroads and coal suppliers.

According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory operated by the U.S. Department of Energy, "every hour the sun bathes the Earth in as much energy as the world consumes in an entire year"! This is important because one of the things Texas has always had more of than oil is sun. Of striking significance to me is that Texas imports $7 to $9 billion annually!

Greater reliability, adequate power quality and the capability to control price fluctuations are of paramount importance to us. One critical source for providing just this are distributed energy resources. These are small, modular power-generating technologies that can be combined with energy management and storage systems to improve the operation of the electricity delivery system. They can be powered by solar, natural gas or even hydrogen.

There are indicators of the importance of a reliable and reasonable electricity supply. According to Larry Owens of Silicon Valley Power, a blackout costs Sun Microsystems "up to $1 million per minute". A recent rolling blackout in the greater San Francisco Bay Area caused an estimated $75 million in losses in the Silicon Valley. In a survey conducted by the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, 34% of respondents said they would shift business operations out of their state if they experience ten or more 1-hour to 1-day unanticipated power losses over a quarter of a year.

Working together, we will provide adequate energy for our future!

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