Collin County IT Director Caren Skipworth was named Texas CIO of the Year on Jan. 27 at Government Technology's GTC Southwest 2009 in Austin.
As IT director of the fast-growing north Texas county, Skipworth promoted intergovernmental collaboration and provided innovative leadership, according to judges. She oversaw the creation of a fiber communication network shared by Collin County, local community colleges and a handful of area cities. She also orchestrated her IT department's relocation from a 24-year-old data center to a new facility over two weekends using only county staff, which saved the jurisdiction $76,000 on the move alone.
Skipworth, who joined Collin County in 1990, said she was honored to win the award and thanked her "talented and dedicated" staff. "I'm very proud of this," she said. "I believe technology is the catalyst for change."
Sacramento Vice Mayor Lauren Hammond said the facility wouldn't meet state renewable energy standards, one of several reasons she couldn't recommend going forward.
Dean Tibbs, president of energy-consulting firm Advanced Energy Strategies Inc. (AES), evaluated the proposal from USST on the city's behalf. "The project does not look economically attractive," he told the Council.
USST had claimed the gasification plant would make a profit within two years from the sales of industrial slag -- a byproduct of the gasification process that can be used in road base, concrete and fertilizer. USST told AES the slag could be sold at $400 per ton. Tibbs told the City Council that while AES was unfamiliar with the slag market, $400 per ton seemed too high an estimate, and instead assigned it $0 value in its calculations.
"In our assessment, without the $400 a ton slag, there would not be a positive cash flow until the 11th year of operation," Tibbs said.
Hammond said, based on testimony from multiple Council meetings on the matter, she believed "plasma arc gasification is not a certifiably clean technology." She added that AES's estimate that the facility would operate $70 million in the red means the plasma arc gasification is "not quite ready" as a viable technology.
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