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TECO Turns 40

By District Energy posted 05-30-2018 00:00


Press Release, Thermal Energy Corporation (TECO)


On May 30, 1978, Thermal Energy Corp. (TECO) in Houston became the proud owner of the chilled-water and steam system serving buildings on the Texas Medical Center (TMC) campus. Now – in 2018 – TECO turns 40, marking an important milestone in its history.

TECO was originally known as Thermal Energy Cooperative, later changing the name to Thermal Energy Corp. as it stands today. TECO has expanded over the decades and currently serves 48 buildings totaling 20.7 million sq ft of space on the campus of the world’s largest medical center. It makes cooling, heating, dehumidification, humidification, kitchen and lab sterilization, and cold rooms possible!

In response to strong interest from TMC campus leaders, Houston Natural Gas Co. built and began operation of the system in 1969. Campus institutions realized that space was already at a premium and that using chilled water and steam from a central source would eliminate their need for space-consuming chillers, boilers and auxiliary equipment.

Just five years later in 1974, campus institutions were seeing exponential growth, and leaders began to discuss acquiring the new chilled-water and steam system to cut costs and gain greater control under a nonprofit umbrella. They formed an advisory committee to assess the system’s purchase and evaluate ownership scenarios with representatives of campus institutions and Houston Natural Gas, which offered to finance the acquisition. Feasibility studies reflecting a cooperative ownership were positive.

Acquisition details fell into place in early 1978 as cooperative representatives formally elected TECO’s first permanent board of directors. On May 30, the board and customer executives signed the approved contracts and closed the deal, which turned plant and distribution system ownership over to TECO for a purchase price of $20 million. TECO took over full system operation and service to 16 customers at 12:01 a.m. June 1, 1978.

TECO’s current board continues to reflect the insightful involvement and vision of TMC member institutions. They review and approve TECO’s strategic plans and capital improvement programs, all with an eye on providing reliable, year-round chilled-water and steam service that ensures stable and competitive cost to a steadily growing customer base.

As TECO celebrates 40 years as system owner, it also prepares to celebrate the 50th anniversary of its district cooling and heating system in 2019. It will be a time to not just look back but to look ahead, as TECO provides “The Energy Behind What’s Next” as part of the ongoing transformation and innovation on the Texas Medical Center campus.