Texas: City of San Antonio Demonstrates Value of Greater Investments in Clean Energy

Project Overview
Positive Impact: San Antonio plans for viable, long-term success with EECBG projects.
Locations: Texas
Partners: City of San Antonio, CPS Energy, Texas engineering Experiment Station, and the San Antonio Water System
EERE Investment: $12.9 million
Clean Energy Sector: Energy-saving homes, buildings, and manufacturingPDF

The City of San Antonio has a sound strategy in place to ensure that their Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) projects are successful and viable in the long term. Each project was designed to align and build on the goals and objectives of San Antonio’s Mission Verde Sustainability Plan—Building a 21st Century Economy. Adopted by the City Council in February 2010, the Plan showcases how investments in efficient and renewable energy and water conservation can create jobs and stimulate economic development within the framework of sustainability. With the Mission Verde Plan in mind, the San Antonio EECBG management team developed several projects, including Benchmarking to Success and Long-term Sustainability, retrofits to the Mission Verde Center, installing a solar photovoltaic system at the San Antonio International Airport, and the City Lights Program.

Close to $4 million has been invested in retrofitting San Antonio’s municipal buildings and making them more energy efficient. San Antonio has tracked the energy consumption of 98% of the city’s facilities. Total energy savings is projected to be 8.2 million kilowatt hours (kWh) per year, resulting in annual savings of $750,000. San Antonio added a measure of innovation by stipulating that avoided cost savings should be placed into a revolving energy efficiency fund dedicated to fund more projects, as well as the costs for the new energy manager position. The position will continue to be funded as long as projects generate energy savings.

The city allocated $1 million in EECBG funds toward energy improvements at the Mission Verde Center, which will serve as a “living lab” to advance the goals of the Mission Verde Sustainability Plan, as well as education, training, and research in efficient and renewable energy technologies, water management, and conservation strategies. Core partners for the center include the city of San Antonio, CPS Energy, Texas engineering Experiment Station, and the San Antonio Water System. As part of its Mission Verde initiative, the city launched the City Lights Small Business Lighting Retrofit Program using EECBG funds. The program worked with the municipally owned local utility, CPS Energy, and the energy efficiency program management company EnerPath. In its first 10 months, City Lights has saved San Antonio’s participating businesses an estimated 4.9 million kWh of energy, and has also trained and employed local energy audit experts and electrical contractors.

San Antonio’s first EECBG-funded solar project was constructing a 235-kilowatt system at the municipally-owned San Antonio International Airport. The city’s EECBG management team knew the new airport terminal offered a highly visible location to showcase renewable energy technologies and help create local jobs. Once the $1.5 million contract was awarded, city staff and the general contractor designed and built the project in less than seven months, complying with all local and federal regulations. The system saves the airport more than $20,000 per year in utility costs.

The Weatherization and Intergovernmental Programs Office (WIP) provides funding and technical assistance to its partners in state and local governments, Indian tribes, and international agencies to facilitate the adoption of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies.

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