August 27, 2004
An engineer who designed heating and cooling systems for semiconductor plants and a U.S. nuclear weapons lab has come to run Mesa’s newest utility.
City Manager Mike Hutchinson hired Nick DeSantis in July to be the city’s first "energy management coordinator."
Officially, the new office was created to conserve energy in city buildings.
However, DeSantis said his focus, at least initially, is the city’s new central cooling plant.
The plant was built to cool the performing arts center, which is under construction downtown. City officials designed extra capacity into the system to cool many other downtown buildings, both private and city-owned. Central cooling plants are more energy efficient than standard air conditioning.
The city’s plan is to operate it as a revenue-generating utility. DeSantis is establishing rates and terms for that purpose.
Last year, Mesa transferred more than $80 million in utility revenue to the city treasury to pay for services and other expenses. Mesa owns water, gas, electric and sewer utilities in the city, and a major natural gas system in Pinal County.
DeSantis, 43, whose annual salary is $70,553, also will develop an energy management program for the city.
Hutchinson said hiring DeSantis was an outcome of a city task force formed several years ago to find ways to save energy.
"We think our ability to save energy is critical," Hutchinson said.
DeSantis has more than 18 years experience in the engineering field, according to his resume. He worked on heating and cooling systems at the Rocky Flats plutonium manufacturing facility in Colorado from 1984 to 1993. His last job was at the Tempe branch of ASML, a Netherlands-based semiconductor maker, where he managed construction projects at plants nationwide.
Mesa is the third municipality in the Valley to create a position for energy management, according to information provided by Mesa’s facilities maintenance division.
Phoenix employs nine people full time for energy management, said Dimitrious Laloudukis, Phoenix’s energy management superintendent.
One Scottsdale employee works part time on energy management, said Chuck Skidmore, Scottsdale energy management engineer.