Volume 19, Issue 43 - Friday, October 22, 2021
By Mary Scott Nabers, CEO of Strategic Partnerships Inc.
As environmental concerns force us to rethink how we power our urban centers, the massive losses sustained from sudden natural disasters expose the need for us to initiate change sooner rather than later. The future of our energy supply must face the dual challenges of sustainability and reliability.

These challenges are spurring new waves of funding for renewable energy options like ‘district energy systems’ and other types of microgrids. Examples of new ways to power university campuses are evident throughout the country, and education leaders are at the forefront of a sweeping trend to provide more efficient and clean energy solutions.

Since 2018, officials at Kent State University have been unfolding a $1 billion plan to transition to renewable energy in all measures of construction. Already, the university is operating natural-gas-fired combustion turbines which produce steam to heat and cool campus facilities. In preparation for the next phase of construction, Kent State officials plan to add solar photovoltaic arrays that will reduce the university’s overall carbon footprint by over 4,000 tons of carbon dioxide.

In May, it was announced that University of Michigan would fund a broad spectrum of energy efficiency measures to dramatically reduce its carbon emissions. The revenue budgeted in a revolving fund will have a five-year opening phase wherein $25 million is allocated to various construction projects. All new projects will be constructed according to new standards of environmental efficiency. The standards are designed to ensure that all new construction projects are compatible with campus heating and cooling systems that generate renewable energy.

The Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUC) adopted a new rule on October 21 compelling generator and utility compliance with winter weather readiness recommendations.

Affected companies must confirm the repair of any known, acute issues that arose from the February 2021 storm event before the end of the year.

Based on requirements from SB 3, the new PUC rule translates established industry best practices into specific actions backed with inspections and the power of significantly increased financial penalties.

The generator readiness standards in question were drawn from the 2012 Quanta Report. Requirements for transmission service providers arise from the “Report on Outages and Curtailments During the Southwest Cold Weather Event on February 1-5, 2011” jointly prepared in 2011 by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation.

Winterization is the first of two phases in the PUC’s process. Phase 2 of the weatherization rulemaking process targets the creation of a more comprehensive, year-round set of weather emergency preparedness reliability standards that will be shaped by an ongoing weather study conducted by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT).
A critical tool in achieving the $7.1 billion Project Connect vision in Austin will be up for vote next week.

On October 29, the Austin Transit Partnership (ATP) board of directors, Austin City Council, and Capital Metro’s board of directors will take a series of votes intended to further set up Project Connect for success over the next decade-plus.

These partners are set to vote on a Joint Powers Agreement that will delineate their responsibilities and lay out standards for Project Connect to the community. Previously, these requirements were laid out in multiple documents.

Under the proposed agreement, the ATP will ensure worker protections and workforce development according to the agreement, while the city will be responsible for transferring Project Connect tax revenue and Capital Metro will develop an operational readiness program for each project.

Project Connect will include two new light rail lines, additional high-frequency bus routes, new commuter rail options, and more achieved through multiple overlapping projects scheduled to be constructed over the next 13 years.
Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) officials are evaluating several Gulf of Mexico sites as the agency acts on the Biden Administration’s call for 30 gigawatts (GW) more of offshore wind energy by 2030.

BOEM is working on refining its process for identifying additional wind energy areas that may be suitable for offshore wind energy leasing. Additionally, it is developing goals, objectives, and guidelines that can be shared with government agencies, tribes, industry, ocean users, and others prior to identifying such areas.

The agency is reviewing nine construction and operations plans (COPs) with a goal of completing the review of at least another six by 2025, for a total of at least 16 COP reviews representing more than 19 GW of clean energy.

In addition to Gulf of Mexico locations, other proposed offshore wind energy sites include the Gulf of Maine, New York Bight, and Central Atlantic as well as the Carolinas, California, and Oregon.
Mattie Parker
Mayor
City of Fort Worth
Public career highlights and education: I started my education in public schools in Hico, Texas, followed by an undergraduate degree from The University of Texas at Austin and a law degree from Texas Wesleyan School of Law (now Texas A&M University School of Law). I am a licensed attorney and have spent more than 17 years in national, state, and local public affairs. Prior to being elected mayor of Fort Worth in 2021, I served as the chief of staff to the Fort Worth mayor and council and was the founding chief executive officer of Fort Worth Cradle to Career and the Tarrant To & Through (T3) Partnership. 

What I like best about my public service is: Public service, at the end of the day, is all about the people you serve. Meeting people where they are is critical to serving the community. It’s where we bridge the gaps, brainstorm and create solutions, hear and evaluate the needs and wants of our neighbors, and share innovative and interesting ideas. Seeing people come together with their unique perspective and creative ideas on how we can best grow as a city is a really beautiful and productive force that is bound to build for a better tomorrow.

The best advice I’ve received is: You have to learn when to say no. Especially as the mayor, you want to say yes to every meeting request, every community event, and every speaking opportunity. There aren’t enough hours in the day to do them all, so say no when you need to and know that most people are going to be understanding when you do. 

My favorite ways to de-stress are: My favorite way to de-stress is to regularly exercise. You have to stay fit to keep up with the fastest-growing large city in the nation. In addition to focusing on health and wellness, I enjoy spending time with my husband, David, and our three children. That quality family time is something that I cherish and keeps me going.

People might be surprised to know that I: Have a large collection of records, born from a love of music passed down from my parents. Growing up, my parents introduced me to a vast and wide array of music, and brought me with them to live music concerts. I inherited their record collection and continually add to it. My love for live shows has stuck with me throughout the years, and now I enjoy seeing shows in Fort Worth from our smallest venues to Dickie’s Arena. 

One thing I wish more people knew about the city of Fort Worth is: Its exceptional trail system. The Trinity Trails, located along the Trinity River and throughout Fort Worth, has more than 100 miles of trails and provides the public with a wonderful atmosphere to get some fresh air, explore the great outdoors, and exercise. Our trail system offers exciting access to fishing, kayaking and paddling, running and biking, mural painting, and more! Check it out at trinitytrailsfw.com
San Patricio County’s excess deaths and less than average life expectancy are driving county and community leaders to call a special election for November 2 to ask voters to approve a new hospital district.

Since Hurricane Harvey destroyed the area’s sole full-service hospital in Aransas Pass in 2017, advocates have been working to improve health-care services to the community that suffers seven to 10 excess deaths a year compared to the state average.

Campaign organizers told county commissioners that the new district would feature a Level IV trauma center and its organization would be similar to Nueces and Refugio county hospital districts.

If approved, construction would be scheduled to begin in summer 2022 with completion anticipated in December 2023.

The proposed hospital district would be led by an elected board of directors responsible for furnishing medical and hospital care for the county’s needy inhabitants.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently awarded more than $13.38 million in financial assistance to seven water and wastewater infrastructure projects in Texas.

USDA is investing $272 million to modernize rural drinking water and wastewater infrastructure through the Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant Program for 270,000 people living in rural communities across 37 states and Puerto Rico.

In Texas, Falcon Rural Water Supply Corp. plans to use $3.86 million in USDA funding to replace the water distribution system in the community of Salineno to include new 3- to 6-inch distribution mains and replacement of transmission lines along Salineno.

The transmission line that supplies the Chihuahua Booster Station will be abandoned, and a new transmission line will be installed. Improvements at the Chihuahua booster station will consist of installing hydro-pneumatic tank and construction of a new ground storage tank.

In addition, a new ground storage tank will be constructed to increase water storage reserves at the water treatment plant for backwashing of the plant gravity filters. The project will include rehabbing the river intake station that will include elevating the electrical and control panels above the flood elevation.

Bruni Water Supply Corp. will receive $3.65 million to provide additional financing for the construction of a micro-filtration system to correct the arsenic levels in the drinking water.

El Sauz Water Supply Corp. will use $3.27 million to add chemical injection equipment that will inject orthophosphate to reduce the corrosivity of the water and stop leaching of lead and copper into the water system, replace the metal service lines at residences that are experiencing high levels of copper and lead, rehabilitate a 24-year-old standpipe, and replace the internal and external coating systems.

Upgrades also include electrical, valve and pump replacements at two booster stations and the extension of a new 4-inch waterline along Sanchez Road to provide first-time water service to 25 new connections.

Rural Development Investments provide loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities, create jobs, and improve the quality of life for millions of Americans in rural areas.
The University of Houston (UH) System will host a pre-submittal meeting at 8:30 a.m. October 26 as it seeks firms to provide architectural design services for various renovation and new construction projects on an as-needed basis. The virtual meeting is mandatory.

Project types include classrooms, research laboratories, offices, student life spaces, site improvements, administration buildings, and other typical projects found on a university campus.

UH locations that could potentially require architectural design services are:
  • Main campus in Houston including Technology Bridge.
  • Clear Lake.
  • Clear Lake at Pearland.
  • Downtown.
  • Katy.
  • Sugar Land.
  • Texas Medical Center.
  • Victoria.

Firms will be categorized as either Category 1 or Category 2. Category 1 firms will have a proven, successful history with projects that have total construction costs up to $800,000. Category 2 firms will have a proven successful history with projects that have total construction costs up to $8 million.

Estimated contract start date is March 2022.
Travis County Healthcare District issued a request for information (RFI) for prevention and wellness solutions for equity in health.

Doing business as Central Health, the county is seeking information from diverse groups and organizations primarily not typically considered traditional partners in health care.

Central Health is interested in delivery of non-clinical interventions to Medical Access Program (MAP) and MAP-B eligible populations addressing health inequities and service gaps to improve overall health.

Ideally, the non-clinical interventions will address the Wellness and Prevention service priority of the Travis County Safety Net System of Care.

The main areas of focus under this service priority include support for:
  • Diet, nutrition, and exercise.
  • Health literacy and communication.
  • Disease prevention and screening.
  • Community health capacity building.

This information will help Central Health be more responsive to the needs of the community by seeking out and elevating the collective wisdom of consumer groups and community organizations that demonstrate a deep understanding of community needs, assets, and values in health-care system planning.

Responses will guide the development of one or more requests for proposals (RFPs) for implementation of non-clinical interventions aligned to the health-care service delivery strategy for wellness and prevention.

RFI submissions are due by 2 p.m. CST November 17.
Dripping Springs councilmembers adopted the city’s Transportation Master Plan on October 19 that identified several mobility improvements and deficiencies in the current transportation network.

Both short- and long-term traffic improvements were recommended and are included in the Master Plan.

Short-term improvements include:
  • Extension of Roger Hanks Parkway. 
  • Connection of a new roadway between RM 12 and U.S. 290 in Northeast Dripping Springs. 
  • Enhancements to Rob Shelton Boulevard. 

The plan also looks at long-term traffic needs, looking ahead to growth through the year 2040. Some of the mid- and long-term recommendations are:
  • Widening of U.S. 290. 
  • Construction of new north/south connections within Dripping Springs. 
  • Construction of bypass routes around the city. 

To help with two primary goals of embracing the city’s character and preserving and enhancing its downtown, the thoroughfare plan prioritized transportation enhancements in areas with existing congestion and focused on new thoroughfares in areas with imminent growth.

As feasibility studies are initiated for new roadways, evaluations of new roadway impact on the community, its character, and the environment will be undertaken.

The plan will be updated every five years to adapt to regional transportation thoroughfare plan updates and the rapid development in the city and its extraterritorial jurisdiction.
Seeking a better understanding of housing resilience, the Texas General Land Office (GLO) is commissioning a study to evaluate housing rehabilitation, reconstruction, and new construction conducted through federal recovery programs.

The GLO’s Resilient Housing Study will focus on these activities performed under Community Development Block Grant for Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) programs across federally funded disasters as awarded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

A virtual pre-proposal conference is set for 2 p.m. CST November 2 with request for proposal (RFP) bids due by 2 p.m. CST January 7, 2022.

The three-phase study is expected to be completed in 15 months and include:
  • A geographic and socioeconomic spatial analysis examining the distribution of CDBG-DR funding for housing programs across various recent disasters impacting Texas. 
  • An analysis of the construction standards mandated by the GLO across various CDBG-DR programs implemented in response to previous disasters that impacted Texas. 
  • An analysis of the construction standards mandated by peer states across CDBG-DR programs similar to those conducted in Texas. 
  • A cost-benefit analysis analyzing the physical, economic, and environmental characteristics across disaster allocations and program activities. 
  • A community educational outreach plan that outlines strategies to educate beneficiaries of GLO programs on resilient home maintenance and mitigation strategies to implement on their property. 

A primary goal of the study is to thoroughly evaluate the performance of prior CDBG-DR housing programs and use the data to guide suggested strategies to promote long-term housing and community resiliency in Texas.
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) will make about $20 million in funding available under the Texas Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Program, starting November 2.

TCEQ will award funding for Direct Current Fast Charging (DCFC) and hydrogen dispensing equipment projects for the purchase and installation of DCFC light-duty electric vehicle supply equipment in a public place, workplace, or multi-unit dwelling. In addition, grants will be available for light-duty hydrogen fuel cell vehicle supply equipment in a public place.

Eligible applicants include individuals, corporations, organizations, governments or governmental subdivisions or agencies, business trusts, partnerships, associations, or other legal entities. Applicants must be eligible to conduct business in Texas.

Grants will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. Application deadline is January 3, 2022.
Texas has formed a new task force with the goal of being named the future site of the National Semiconductor Technology Center (NSTC) and the National Advanced Packaging Manufacturing Program (NAPMP).

The National Semiconductor Centers Texas Task Force met on October 19 to begin coordination of the development of a proposal to the U.S. Department of Commerce to award Texas the centers. Semiconductor industry stakeholders from the private sector, community partners, and higher education institutions are collaborating on the Texas initiative.

NSTC and NAPMP will become a hub for industry, academia, the broader research community, and government to come together to serve as a nexus for conducting advanced semiconductor research and prototyping that strengthens the domestic semiconductor ecosystem.

Task force members include the Office of the Governor, Texas Workforce Commission, Dallas Regional Chamber, Austin Chamber, Greater:SATX, Greater Houston Partnership, Borderplex Alliance, Texas Association of Manufacturers, Austin Regional Manufacturing Association, and Texas Association of Business.

Other members are the Texas Economic Development Corp., National Security Innovation Council, Tower Semiconductor, NI, NXP, Tokyo Electron, Applied Materials, Toppan Photomasks, The University of Texas-Austin (UT), UT Dallas, Texas A&M, Texas State University, Rice University, and Texas Tech University among others.
The Port of Corpus Christi Authority reached an agreement with the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) as part of the port’s commitment to decarbonization and energy transition initiatives.

Intended to advance collaboration between the port, NREL, and port tenants, the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) directs efforts to identify scalable energy transition and decarbonization projects that require techno-economic-analysis, modeling, testing, and validation efforts unique to NREL’s capabilities.

The MOU defines several shared objectives, including:
  • Scalable production, storage, use, and export of renewable and/or low carbon intensity energy. 
  • Integration and de-risking of innovative renewable technologies and production systems that leverage the abundance of solar, wind, and other renewable potential in and around the Port of Corpus Christi. 
  • Evaluation of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) impacts of energy transition projects on surrounding communities. 

Additionally, the agreement calls for identifying and pursuing available local, state, federal, and U.S. Department of Energy funding opportunities.
Gov. Greg Abbott appointed Fort Worth attorney John Scott as Texas secretary of state on October 21. If confirmed by the Texas Senate, Scott would succeed Ruth Hughs. 

Scott represented Donald Trump in his challenge of Pennsylvania’s election results. Before that, Scott served as deputy attorney general for civil litigation for then-Attorney General Abbott. Subsequently, Scott was appointed the first chief operating officer of the Health and Human Services Commission. After returning to private practice, Abbott appointed Scott as the chair of the board for the Texas Department of Information Resources. 
Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar announced Anca Ion as the new chief investment officer (CIO) for the Texas Treasury Safekeeping Trust Company, effective November 1. She will succeed former CIO Ruchit Shah. 

Ion is currently the deputy CIO of the Trust Company and CIO for internal investments. She joined the Trust Company in 2005 where she has served as portfolio manager for structured fixed income investments, deputy director of internal investments, and head of internal investments. 
The Wolfforth City Council selected Randy Criswell as their new city manager on October 18. He will succeed former City Manager Darrell Newsom who resigned in June. 

Criswell most recently served as city manager for Mineral Wells. Before that, he was the city of Canyon’s city manager, assistant city manager, and public works director. 
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner appointed Priya Zachariah as chief resilience and sustainability officer (CRSO) on October 20. 

Zachariah previously served as senior program manager for regional and long-range planning at Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (Houston METRO). 

As CRSO, she will oversee the implementation of both the Resilient Houston Plan and the Houston Climate Action Plan. 
The town of Flower Mound named Tommy Dalton as its new interim town manager, effective October 30. He will take over from current Interim Town Manager Debra Wallace who is set to retire. 

Dalton has served the town of Flower Mound since 2003, most recently as its assistant town manager. Before that, he was the town’s planning manager and director of strategic services. 
The city of Plano named Daniel Prendergast as director of public works on October 18. He replaces former Director of Public Works Gerald Cosgrove who passed away in August. 

Prendergast has served the city of Plano as assistant director of public works and community investment program engineering manager. 
Gov. Greg Abbott announced these appointments and reappointments from October 15-21:

State Energy Plan
Advisory Committee 
Daniel Hall - Hurst 
Castlen Moore Kennedy - Houston 
Joel Mickey - Georgetown 
Phil Wilson - Austin (named chair) 

455th Judicial District Court 
Cleve Doty - Austin 

48th Judicial District Court 
Christopher Taylor - Fort Worth 

Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board 
Daniel Wong - Houston 

Statewide Health
Coordinating Council 
Kenneth Holland - Huntsville 
Tamara Rhodes - Amarillo 
Carol Boswell - Andrews (reappointed) 
Melinda Rodriguez - San Antonio (reappointed) 
Yasser Zeid - Tyler (reappointed) 
Emily Hunt - Houston 

Lower Colorado River Authority Board of Directors 
Matthew Arthur - La Grange 

Angelina and Neches River Authority Board of Directors 
Erin Holloway - Arp 
Dale Morton - Nacogdoches (reappointed) 
Francis Spruiell - Center (reappointed) 

Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners 
Darren Black - Abilene 
Thomas Rice Jr. - Houston 
Milton Gutierrez - Georgetown (reappointed) 

National Association of State Chief Information Officers – Driving Digital Acceleration - The 2021 State CIO Survey

Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas – Eleventh District Beige Book 
Dozens of public-sector jobs are available. Click here to view all job openings and guidelines for job submissions to SPI. New jobs added this week:

  • Texas Water Development Board – Regional Water Planner (Planner III)

  • Texas Legislative Council – Infrastructure Specialist I

  • Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs – Homeless Program Manager

  • Texas Department of Information Resources – Contract Administration Manager I (Procurement Lead)

  • Texas Health and Human Services Commission – Reimbursement Analyst II

  • Texas Department of Transportation – Training Specialist III – Program Administrator

  • Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts – Procurement Oversight & Delegation Contract Specialist
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