College Station Utilities

Public Power Week celebrates value to community

By Pat McIntyre, CSU Energy Coordinator

The City of College Station is recognizing the dedicated professionals of College Station Utilities and Utility Customer Service during Public Power Week, which runs through Saturday.

The 31st anniversary of Public Power Week is a nationwide celebration of public power’s value to its communities. The event honors the thousands of men and women across the United States who provide and maintain the electrical grid infrastructure and services known as public power. In 2016, more than 4.1 million Texans were served by community-owned power.

College Station is one of 72 publicly owned utilities in Texas and is one of only five to receive national recognition as a Reliable Public Power Provider from the American Public Power Association, which coordinates Public Power Week. Utilities receiving the designation are among the nation’s best in reliability, safety, workforce development and system improvement.

The 77 employees at CSU and the 25 at Utility Customer Service are the foundation for the reliable service and electric system infrastructure that allows our community to develop and grow. Programs available in College Station through our electric utility include Energy Back II A/C Rebate, LED Lighting Rebate, Connected Thermostat Rebate, Commercial LED Rebate and free energy audits.

The American Public Power Association represents not-for-profit, community-owned electric utilities that power homes, businesses, and streets in nearly 2,000 towns and cities, serving 47 million Americans. With no divided loyalties, these utilities focus on a single mission: providing reliable electricity to the communities they serve while protecting the environment.

As we observe Public Power Week, we thank the employees at College Station Utilities and Utility Customer Service for their hard work, professionalism and the invaluable service they provide to our community every day.

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0000072EPAbout the Author

Patrick McIntyre is energy coordinator for College Station Utilities and is responsible for the energy conservation and key accounts programs. Pat joined CSU as a key accounts representative in 2009. He previously worked for 17 years in the manufacturing sector and eight years as a consultant with the Texas Engineering Extension Service. Pat graduated from Texas A&M in 1982 with B.S. in Industrial Distribution and has lived in the area since 1984.

 


 

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New water meters will improve accuracy, planning

By Jennifer Nations, Water Resource Coordinator

College Station Water Services is replacing about 5,000 residential water meters to allow the city to more accurately monitor water usage, plan for future water needs, and support water conservation.

The project began in April and is expected to be complete in June. You won’t be charged for your new meter, which will be replaced in order of billing cycle to allow you to begin a fresh cycle with the new meter.

The contractor won’t need to enter your home or business to do the replacement, but they may walk through your yard to access the water supply valve. Our water meters are located below ground in plastic, concrete or cast iron meter boxes with lids, typically near the sidewalk or curb.

The contractor’s vehicles are marked “Contractor for College Station Water Services.” If you’re home, the workers will let you know before briefly shutting off your water. If you aren’t home, they’ll leave a tag on your door to let you know they replaced your meter.

As with any measuring device, meters can become less accurate as they age. Water meters more than a decade old can significantly under-register flows. If the new, more accurate meter results in a slightly higher water bill, that means your old meter wasn’t registering all the water you used.

If you experience any problems or leaks with the new meter, please call College Station Utilities Dispatch at 855-528-4278. Choose option 2 to report a water issue and leave your contact information.

If you have any questions or concerns, call Water Services at 979-764-3660.

 


About the Author

Jennifer Nations has been the City of College Station’s water resource coordinator since 1999 after serving two years as BVSWMA’s environmental compliance officer. She’s also chair of the Water Conservation and Reuse Division for the Texas Section of the American Water Works Association. A native of Fremont, Calif., Jennifer earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental & resource science from UC-Davis in 1995 and received a master’s degree in water management & hydrologic science from Texas A&M in 2016.


 

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Brave linemen are dedicated to keeping the power on

By Patrick McIntyre, CSU Energy Coordinator

Since the invention of the Edison light bulb in 1879, electric linemen have been keeping the nation energized. More than 115,000 men and women install and maintain the nine million miles of electric grid that meet the nation’s power needs, including the 28 who serve at College Station Utilities.

That’s why the United States Congress and the City of College Station are recognizing today as National Lineman Appreciation Day (#ThankaLineman) as a way to honor the hard-working folks who protect public safety and energize our economy by keeping the power on.

Linemen are also a vital part of the first-responder community alongside police officers, firefighters, and paramedics. In most cases, other first responders can see their emergency issues, but electricity is invisible, which makes for an extremely hazardous environment during storms. While big events require all-hands-on-deck, most routine trouble calls are handled by two-person crews.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, being an electric lineman ranked among the 10 most dangerous jobs. Unlike most occupations, linemen spend a large part of their working lives well above the ground maintaining electrical infrastructure. Our linemen work with voltages as high as 138,000 volts down to the standard 120-volt power in your home.

College Station Utilities is also committed to the construction of reliable, underground utilities. Our electric grid is about 56 percent underground, which requires our electric personnel to be knowledgeable in both overhead and underground systems.

Please join us in thanking the highly skilled and dedicated linemen who work all hours of the day, often in hazardous conditions, to keep your lights on.

 


About the Author

Patrick McIntyre is energy coordinator for College Station Utilities and is responsible for the energy conservation and key accounts programs. Pat joined CSU as a key accounts representative in 2009. He previously worked for 17 years in the manufacturing sector and eight years as a consultant with the Texas Engineering Extension Service. Pat graduated from Texas A&M in 1982 with B.S. in Industrial Distribution and has lived in the area since 1984. 


 

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Adjusting to new LED street lights may take time

By Timothy R. Crabb, P.E., Electric Utility Director

We’ve received good feedback on our LED street lighting program as we replace the old high-pressure sodium (HPS) lights with energy-efficient light-emitting diode (LED) fixtures. The HPS fixtures had lost much of their effectiveness through deterioration of components and dirt buildup on the lenses.

Since the LED fixtures provide more lighting, our customers may need to allow a month or two to get used to the change.

We began upgrading the city’s 5,000 street lights in early March. The project should be complete by mid-July.

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About the Author

Timothy Crabb is in his fifth year as College Station’s electric utility director and has more than 40 years of electric utility experience. He began his career in the electric utility industry the week after he graduated from Taylor High School in 1977. Timothy earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the UT-Arlington in 1990.


 

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College Station converts to efficient LED street lights

By Timothy R. Crabb, P.E., Electric Utility Director

In 2009, College Station became the first city in Texas to install an automated street light monitoring system, which helps us quickly identify and repair malfunctions and burned out bulbs.

Now, we’ll be the first with that system to convert entirely to high-efficiency LED (light emitting diode) lighting.

On Wednesday, College Station Utilities will begin upgrading the city’s 5,500 street lights to LED fixtures. The LEDs will reduce our power and maintenance costs while providing better, more reliable lighting. The conversion should be complete by mid-July.

The street lights used in residential neighborhoods will be 3,000 Kelvin fixtures that retain some of the warm glow of our current lights but with better color recognition. Thoroughfare lights will be 4,000 Kelvin fixtures that emit a brighter, cooler white light to enhance security and traffic safety. Our monitoring system also allows us to dim the LEDs.

Since the LED fixtures provide more lighting, our customers may need to allow a month or two to get used to the change.

Replacing thousands of street lights isn’t cheap. The project has a price tag of about $2.56 million, but the money we save from lower maintenance and power expenses means we’ll likely recover the costs in 7-8 years.

Since the new system is expected to last about 30 years, we’ll be reaping the benefits for decades to come.

 


About the Author

Timothy Crabb is in his fifth year as College Station’s electric utility director and has more than 40 years of electric utility experience. He began his career in the electric utility industry the week after he graduated from Taylor High School in 1977. Timothy earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the UT-Arlington in 1990.


 

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New fee will help address street maintenance concerns

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By Aubrey Nettles, Special Projects Coordinator

While the results of our 2016 citizen survey last spring were enlightening, they were hardly surprising.

We weren’t at all surprised to learn that the overwhelming majority of our residents think College Station is a terrific place to live, work, and raise a family. We were proud that our overall city services got high marks, along with the value of the services you receive for your tax dollars.

When it came to what services our residents deem most important, we weren’t surprised, either. Public safety, managing traffic congestion, and maintaining our roadways and were at the top of the list.

The survey also revealed the biggest gaps between the importance and quality of our services. With our rapid growth, we weren’t surprised to see a 70-point gap between the importance (98 percent) and quality (28 percent) for managing traffic congestion.

What seized our attention was the 51-point gap for street maintenance. While 99 percent said maintaining our roads was an important service, only 48 percent gave us a good or excellent rating. That represented a 23-point drop from the 2012 survey, the biggest decline in any city service.

City council takes action

Those numbers also commanded the attention of the city council. During the FY17 budget process, the council began considering roadway maintenance fees to help address the maintenance needs of that vital infrastructure. After two public hearings and much deliberation over several months, the council voted in November to implement the fees starting Jan. 1.

The roadway maintenance fee will be paid by citizens and businesses within the city limits, based on their reasonably equitable share in the total impact on the road system. The fee will appear as a line item on your utility bill, with the revenue dedicated entirely to the maintenance and rehabilitation of our streets. That means the funds can’t be used for anything else.

Many cities in Texas are facing the same issue of road maintenance needs outpacing property and sales tax revenue. Others with variations of a roadway maintenance fee include Bryan, Austin, Corpus Christi, Kingsville, Lampasas, Taylor, and Richwood. Our neighbors in Bryan began assessing a transportation fee in 2004 that’s improved the quality of its road system.

How much do I pay?

Travel characteristics of specific land uses were used to develop the fee schedule. For residential properties, a flat monthly rate of $7.78 will be assessed to single-family homes and $6.10 to multi-family units. Bryan residents pay $12 a month.

Non-residential properties will be placed in one of five tiers ranging from $17.23 for properties that generate little road use to $250 for properties that create the most road use. For example, a small office building is expected to cause much less traffic than a large retail business, so it pays a lower fee.


Vehicle Miles Generated/Day Monthly Charge
Non-Residential
Tier I 0 – 23.99 $17.23
Tier II 24.00 – 43.99 $38.71
Tier III 43.99 – 90.99 $74.71
Tier IV 91.00 – 223.99 $152.39
Tier V 224.00 + $250.00
Residential
Single Family Flat fee/dwelling unit $7.78
Multi-Family Flat fee/dwelling unit $6.10

What determines the non-residential tiers?

The tiers for non-residential properties are based on the amount of roadway traffic generated by the land use, the size of the property, and an industry-standard trip generation factor. The 65 land use categories for the roadway fee are consistent with other city transportation initiatives.

The size of each property depends on its land use. For example, office buildings are measured by floor area, gas stations are measured by the number of fueling positions, and hotels are measured by the number of rooms. The trip generation factor for each land use — a function of the number and length of vehicle trips — is determined by the Institute of Transportation Engineers’ Trip Generation Manual.

The amount of the fee based on a final trip value derived from the property size and the trip generation factor.

Our residents made clear in the citizen survey that they expect our streets to be properly maintained and rehabilitated. In the long run, additional resources dedicated to maintenance will save taxpayer money by deferring costly reconstruction projects.

For more information, contact me at 979-764-3423 or anettles@cstx.gov.

 


15171088_10109275789026314_9222973594705679303_n1About the Author

Aubrey Nettles is in her third year as special projects coordinator in the City Manager’s Office. She previously served as executive assistant to the Fort Bend County Commission and was a management analyst for Harris County. A native of Smithville, Aubrey earned a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Houston in 2012 and a bachelor’s degree in communications from Texas A&M in 2010.  


 

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