Celebrating 50 Years:
The energy behind what’s next

Most people recall 1969 as the year the United States put a man on the moon. TECO likes to remember it as the year district cooling and heating were born on the Texas Medical Center (TMC) campus. 

Houston Natural Gas was the district energy system’s original owner, beginning construction in 1968 and operation in 1969. The system expanded almost immediately, in both 1970 and 1972, and has continued to grow through the decades. 

In 1978, the Texas Medical Center and numerous member institutions acquired the system from Houston Natural Gas. TECO, then known as Thermal Energy Cooperative, took over ownership and system operation. 

In 2019, the system celebrates its 50th anniversary, one year after TECO marked 40 years of system ownership in 2018.

Scroll below to learn how the district energy system – and TECO – have grown since chilled water and steam service began in 1969.

 

Texas Medical Center leaders explore and agree upon feasibility of central heating and cooling plant for member institutions

1966

TMC leaders contract with Houston Natural Gas to build central plant.

1967

Houston Natural Gas Corporation completes construction and begins operation of $4.5 million system central chilled-water and steam plant to serve buildings on Texas Medical Center campus.

1969

Texas Medical Center Central Heating and Cooling Services Cooperative Association (Thermal Energy Cooperative) formed by TMC leaders to explore acquisition of chilled-water and steam system from Houston Natural Gas.

1975

Thermal Energy Cooperative successfully negotiates acquisition of chilled-water and steam system and enters into membership agreements and signed contracts for service to Texas Medical Center customers.

1978

Begins major energy-efficiency improvements, including conversion to a combination of natural gas, utility electric power and emergency power production.

1980

Installs emergency water well to ensure future uninterrupted water supply after Hurricane Alicia shuts down city water supply.

1984

Adds South Main Plant as a satellite additional chilled-water and steam capacity.

1991

Adds 20,000 tons of chilled water capacity as it completes the buildout of the South Main Plant.

2001

Changes name to Thermal Energy Corporation.

2002

Interconnects Central Plant and South Main Plant distribution systems for expansion and even greater efficiencies and reliability.

Shifts ownership from a cooperative to a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation.

2003

Completes construction of floodwall and other major infrastructure upgrades to protect against future flood damage and disaster impact.

2004

Undertakes and completes a master planning project to strategize future expansion to parallel growth of Texas Medical Center.

2006

Begins expansion construction.

2007

Lays foundations and continues construction.

2008

Completes 8.8 million-gallon chilled-water tank construction and begins tank operation.

2009

Completes 48 MW combined heat and power system, begins operation.

2010

Celebrates completion of expansion construction with grand opening of East Chiller Building.

2011

Names flag plaza in honor of former TMC President Dr. Richard E. Wainerdi for his unwavering support.

2013

Renames Central Plant the Paul G. Bell, Jr. Energy Plant to honor past chairman's 40 years of service and leadership.

2014

Weathers record-setting Hurricane Harvey, maintaining non-stop chilled-water and steam service to customers.

2017

Upgrades control room enabling operators to view additional internal and external data affecting operations.

Celebrates 40th anniversary of system ownership.

Rebated customers $33.4 million from 2011 to 2018 and reduced rates 14% from 2014 to 2018.

2018

Marks 50th anniversary of district energy system.

Honors TECO's past and current military veterans with a plaque commemorating their service.

2019
 
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