"San Antonio, We are not in Kansas anymore"
In recent travels to Austin and Houston, I heard numerous comments along the lines, “Wow, I understand San Antonio is on a roll and building significant momentum in the area of Clean Tech and Sustainability.” So I have decided to prepare a summary list to explain just why they would say that. Here is version one, with much more to come in future weeks.
TWO INCREDIBLY NEW INITIATIVES THAT HAVE HUGE IMPLICATIONS
·The establishment of the UTSA- Texas Sustainable Energy Research Institute headed by Les Shephard of the Sandia National Labs is huge. And now with the announcement of $50 million of funding from CPS Energy we are positioned as a potential national leader in clean technology research.
·The decision of Mir Imran (Thomas Edison II and CEO of InCube Ventures) to establish a major presence in our community backed by a new San Antonio $100 million venture fund is also huge. Yes, most of the work will focus on bio-med and medical products, but Mir also has a very strong interest in Clean Technology.
A PUBLIC POWER UTILITY THAT STANDS TALL in the NATION
·Hiring Doyle Beneby, a highly qualified CEO at CPS Energy to lead a major transformation of our public power utility sets the stage for continued progressive leadership for our community. And we have one of the few public power utilities in the nation with a Chief Sustainability Officer – Cris Eugster.
·Wind Power - Electricity generated from the West Texas plains and Texas coastal wind farms makes CPS Energy the largest publicly owned purchaser of wind power in the country. – 710 Megawatts
·Solar – In April 2010, CPS Energy announced the development of the largest solar pv farm in Texas – The Blue Wing Solar Project. A 14 Megawatt installation of Duke Energy and Juwi Solar Inc. A few weeks ago they announced an agreement to partner with Sun Edison for 30 megawatts of solar power. The project also offers the possibility of opening a regional office in San Antonio, collaborating with CPS' research partners on solar research and development, and opening an education center at one of the installations.
·CPS Energy’s STEP program will provide $850 million in funding for energy efficiency projects over the next ten years.
·CPS Energy recently launched one of the first solar feed-in tariff programs in the nation.
·San Antonio enjoys the lowest cost of electric power of the 20 largest cities in the nation
A PUBLIC WATER SUPPLY SYSTEM that also Stands Tall in the Nation
·The San Antonio Water System has been recognized for developing one of the most effective water conservation initiatives in the nation.
·SAWS has constructed the nation’s largest direct recycled water system which to date has reused almost 12 billion gallons of “waste water.”
·Earlier this year, SAWS was recognized with a 2010 Ethics in Business Award presented by The Ecumenical Center for Religion and Health and the UTSA College of Business.
·SAWS is the first large wastewater utility to partner with a private sector company, Ameresco, to actively sell biogas (produced from sewage) in the United States. SAWS ratepayers will receive a royalty on the sale of the gas, estimated at $200,000 a year.
IMPRESSIVE PUBLIC, PRIVATE REGIONAL INITIATIVES
·Mission Verde Center at Cooper Middle School, in the heart of San Antonio, is a revolutionary model to achieve national sustainability goals through Economic Stimulus and green jobs creation; Training/Education and workforce development and sustainability education; and Demonstration/ Validation of energy and water insertion.
·The process of the San Antonio partnership with the Texas A&M university system , UT Austin, UTSA, and SWRI in response to a federal grant of $130 million to demonstrate energy efficiency advancements in homes set the stage for future beneficial collaborations. We may not win the grant, but the process has been very productive and positive.
INITIATIVES to ADVANCE the SA GREEN ECONOMY
Mayor Julian Castro’s Green Jobs Leadership Council, chaired by Larry Zinn, has transitioned into the Mission Verde Foundation initiative. This future non-profit will focus on developing a green economy in San Antonio.
IMPRESSIVE ENTREPRENEURIAL COMPANIES
We will feature many in the future, but for now San Antonio’s Cinco Solar stands out. They have constructed the two largest solar hot water installations in the nation: at the Army Residence Community (ARC) in San Antonio and at the Bexar County jail.
K-12 EDUCATIONAL DEVELOPMENTS
·James Madison High School Agriscience Magnet offering has long been a model for urban agricultural education and is one of the largest and most active agricultural programs in Texas. But their new $23.5 million facility is over the top. I doubt that there is a more impressive sustainability
initiative of any high school in Texas, if not the nation.
A YOUNG ENTREPRENEUR WORTH FOLLOWING
·At 21 years old, UTSA alumnus David A. Gonzales II, UTSA graduate 2008, already has a superb resume to offer to prospective employers. The young inventor was awarded ConocoPhillips' first Energy Prize in October for his Layered Mag Wheel,a revolutionary invention with applications in the auto and wind and industry. Established to recognize and foster creative solutions to the U.S. energy crisis, the ConocoPhillips competition was punctuated by a $100,000 grand prize. David has decided to advance his innovations while living in San Antonio. You will be hearing much from this young man in the future.
·There is so much more to share with you, and I will do so in the near future.
·Great things are going on at USAA, SWRI, HEB, Valero, Port SA, Rackspace, the Military Joint Base Operations, and many others.
·A number of impressive Clean Tech start-ups have emerged in San Antonio in the past six months.
·The San Antonio Chamber, the Hispanic Chamber, and the North Chamber have all established Sustainability committees this year.
·And we are most fortunate that our media: SA Express News, SA Business Journal, KLRN –PBS, and Texas Public Radio are doing an excellent job of advancing Sustainability issues.