TECO Turns 40!

On May 30, 1978 – before any of our world-champion Houston Astros were even born – TECO 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, and we’re pleased to mark such an important milestone in our history.

TECO was originally known as Thermal Energy Cooperative, later changing the name to Thermal Energy Corporation 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. We make cooling, heating, dehumidification, humidification, kitchen and lab sterilization, and cold rooms possible!

Operation begins. Houston Natural Gas Company built and began operation of the system in 1969 in response to strong interest from TMC campus leaders. Campus institutions saw 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.

Ownership analyzed. Just five years later, as campus institutions saw exponential growth, leaders began to discuss acquiring the new chilled-water and steam system to cut costs and gain greater control under a nonprofit umbrella. In 1974, they formed an advisory committee to evaluate the system’s purchase. In 1975, they established the Texas Medical Center Central Heating and Cooling Services Cooperative Association (Thermal Energy Cooperative - TECO) to thoroughly investigate energy supply, cost, efficiency and conservation issues.

Over the next several years, the group evaluated 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 occurs. Acquisition details began to fall into place in early 1978 as cooperative representatives formally elected TECO’s first permanent Board of Directors. Its officers were R.S. Kristoferson, president; Dr. Richard Eastwood, vice president; E.R. Gilley, secretary; and Paul G. Bell, Jr., treasurer. (Mr. Bell later chaired TECO’s Board of Directors for 14 years.)

On May 30, the Board and customer executives met to sign the approved contracts and close the deal, turning ownership over to TECO. The cooperative bought the central cooling and heating plant and its distribution system from Houston Natural Gas for approximately $20 million.

Henry Kroeger became the first director (“president”) of the cooperative and along with his team took over full system operation and service to 16 customers at 12:01 a.m. June 1, 1978.

Vision implemented. TECO’s current Board of Directors 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 to a steadily growing customer base.

TECO thanks the many leaders of customer institutions on the TMC campus over the decades who have shown their ongoing support to the company and our dedicated employees.

While we look back with gratitude, we look forward with excitement. It’s an honor to be a part of the ongoing transformation and innovation on the TMC campus.

Learn more about TECO’s history.

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Cooling and heating pacesetting institutions at the Texas Medical Center

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