May Happy Hour: Screening of “Catching the Sun”

We’re shaking things up a bit!  Instead of a speaker, our May happy hour will be a screening of “Catching the Sun,” an exciting film the hopes and challenges of solar energy.  It’s about job creation, bringing people affordable energy, political battles, and helping the fight against climate change.

An unemployed American worker, a Tea Party activist, and a Chinese solar entrepreneur race to lead the clean energy future. But who wins and who loses the battle for power in the 21st century?

Through the stories of workers and entrepreneurs in the U.S. and China, Catching the Sun captures the global race to lead the clean energy future. Over the course of a solar jobs training program, Catching the Sun follows the hope and heartbreak of unemployed American workers seeking jobs in the solar industry.  With countries like China investing in innovative technologies and capitalizing on this trillion-dollar opportunity, Catching the Sun tells the story of the global energy transition from the perspective of workers and entrepreneurs building solutions to income inequality and climate change with their own hands. Their successes and failures speak to one of the biggest questions of our time: will the U.S. actually be able to build a clean energy economy?

When: Tuesday, May 24, 5:30 – 8:00 pm (film starts at 6:15)

Where: Scholz Garten (1607 San Jacinto St)

Tickets: $10 ($5 students) – Buy Here


April Happy Hour: Living Building Challenge

Plan to be inspired by the solar opportunity within the Living Building Challenge™.  LBC is the built environment’s most rigorous performance standard. It calls for the creation of building projects at all scales that operate as cleanly, beautifully and efficiently as nature’s architecture. The certification process under the Challenge requires that projects meet a series of ambitious performance requirements over a minimum of 12 months of continuous occupancy.  We will hear the living proof story of the building of the Bullitt Center, a local, place-based community transformation in Seattle.
Around the world, passionate individuals are advocating for restorative building practices. They’re spreading the word and removing barriers to change.  It begins by sharing resources and collaborating locally to pursue Living Building Challenge certification.Join us to hear from Karen Knight about the Living Building Challenge!
 Tuesday, April 26, 2016
5:30 – 8:00 pm
Scholz Garten
1607 San Jacinto St

Karen KnightKaren Knight’s enduring passion for energy policy, civic ecology, and high-performance architecture has made her an innovator and role model in Austin. Putting her money where her mouth is, she renovated her own home to receive the Austin Energy Green Building program’s 5-star rating, demonstrating clearly that it is possible to integrate modern architecture in an energy-positive environment. An Ambassador for the Living Building Challenge in Austin, she also supports the healthy engagement of kids with nature through the Shoal Creek Conservancy, Austin Families in Nature, and the Dell Children’s Medical Center Trust.  Along with her partner, Graham Pierce, she is currently stewarding 67 acres at Ardor Wood Farm in Red Rock, TX to be shared as a holistic, regenerative wildlife & human retreat experience.  Her urban development initiatives for an Ardor project in central downtown Austin continue to move forward to bring together internationally recognized innovators in sustainability, energy, and design to fulfill the vision of a collaborative space fusing hospitality with exquisite, living architecture along the greenbelt trails of Shoal Creek.


March Happy Hour: Austin Energy SHINES – Distributed Solar and Storage

Solar is booming, but the share of electricity coming from solar is still very small.  As that changes, it will be important to find ways to integrate larger amounts of solar energy in ways that keep the grid stable.  As has already been demonstrated in Hawaii, it’s important to take these steps early to avoid having solar production curtailed from homes and businesses.  To that end, Austin Energy has been awarded $4.3 million from the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative.

The grant will fund the Austin Energy SHINES (Sustainable and Holistic Integration of Energy Storage and Solar PV) Project, which will pilot and research solar, battery storage, and smart inverter technologies. Included in this project is the much anticipated community solar installation, battery storage to be co-located with the community solar and battery storage at the Mueller development.

Karl PophamKarl Popham, Austin Energy’s Manager of Electric Vehicles & Emerging Technologies, will join us this month to talk about the Austin Energy SHINES Program.  Karl has 23+ years experience in emerging technologies, leadership, and consulting. He currently leads Austin Energy’s Emerging Technologies and Electric Vehicle teams to include the award winning Plug-In EVerywhere™ program. Additionally, he is a Department of Energy Principal Investigator on 3 separate initiatives that involve renewables, energy storage, and mobility. He also serves on several research and policy boards relating to energy and innovation.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016
5:30 – 8:00 pm
Scholz Garten
1607 San Jacinto St
Please RSVP.


February Happy Hour: Solar On-Bill Financing at Pedernales Electric Co-op

The Pedernales Electric Cooperative is taking steps to encourage more of its customers to go solar – including the recent kick off on an on-bill financing program for customer-owned solar installations and battery storage.  This is exciting news, both because it the co-op serves many Austin-area residents, and because, as the largest co-op in the country, PEC can set a good example for other co-ops.

Join us for happy hour with Blake Beavers, Renewable & Distributed Energy Manager, and Peter Muhoro, Director of Energy Research and Strategy, of PEC.

WHEN: Tuesday, February 23, 2016, 5:30-8:00 p.m.
WHERE: Scholz Garten, 1607 San Jacinto, Austin, TX 78701
RSVP


January Happy Hour: 100% Renewable Energy for Georgetown

Our first happy hour of the year is going to be one you won’t want to miss. Georgetown will soon be powered by 100% renewable energy. How is it achieving this goal so much more rapidly than Austin and most other cities? What factors were considered in the decision and what were the reasons for choosing renewable energy?

Join us to hear from Mayor Dale Ross, General Manager of Georgetown Utility Systems Jim Briggs and Manager of Resource Planning and Integration Chris Foster.

When: 5:30 – 8:00 p.m., Wednesday, January 27, 2016
Where: Scholz Garten, 1607 San Jacinto Blvd, Austin
Get your ticket!

Georgetown Mayor Dale Ross

Georgetown Mayor Dale Ross

Mayor Dale Ross:

Dale Ross has lived in the Old Town section of Georgetown for over ten years with his wife, Mickie, and their cat Lillie. He has a wide range of experience in the private sector as business owner, public servant and philanthropist. He is a Certified Public Accountant and President and Founder of L. Dale Ross, CPA, P.C. located in Georgetown. In addition to running a successful business, he has provided his professional advice and services with respect to formulating policy and being a steward of the taxpayers’ money in fulfilling his fiduciary responsibilities during his tenure on the Georgetown City Council.

He is a member of several state and national professional organizations, as well as local non-profits like the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Georgetown Association, Georgetown Heritage Society and the Sun City Kiwanis. He is the president of the Village Lake Office Business Owners’ Association, and is the treasurer of the Georgetown Symphony Society. He is also a past president and treasurer of the Williamson Museum on the Georgetown Square.

In addition to being Mayor, Ross’ service to the City includes a term as District 6 City Council Member, Mayor Pro-Tem, and he was an officer or board member for five other City of Georgetown boards.

Jim Briggs, General Manager of Georgetown Utility Systems

Jim Briggs, General Manager of Georgetown Utility Systems

Jim Briggs:

Jim has served as the City’s Director of Community Owned Utilities and as Assistant City Manager over 26 years. In 2012 when he was promoted to the position of General Manager of Georgetown Utility Systems. As General Manager Jim is responsible for the strategic planning for the utility along with daily operations. Jim has guided the utility through years of high growth as well as times of economic recession; each economic period with its own complexities and challenges.

Jim is a graduate of Texas A&M University, with a Bachelor’s Degree from the College of Agricultural Engineering in Mechanized Systems. Jim has earned his certification as a Certified Water Operator and as a Public Power Executive from the American Public Power Association. Jim serves currently as a board member and past President of the Texas Public Power Association. Jim is also currently serving on the Brazos River Authority Region “G” Water Planning Board. He also serves as Treasurer to Public Power Incorporated, a for-profit affiliate of The American Public Power Association.

In his free time, Jim golf’s when he is not farming or operating the family ranching business.

Chris Foster,  Manager of Resource Planning and Integration

Chris Foster, Manager of Resource Planning and Integration

Chris Foster:

Chris is currently the Manager of Resource Planning and Integration for the City of Georgetown, and has served in the capacity since 2008. His primary role is managing the City’s Municipally Owned Utility power supply.

Previous work includes managing payroll for the Health and human Services Commission, fixing computer equipment for CVS and Walgreens, and running his own tech repair company. Chris is a graduate of Georgetown High School, holding a bachelor’s in Economics/Finance from the University of Mary-Hardin Baylor, and a Master’s in Public Administration from Texas State. Chris is also a Certified Government Finance Officer through the Government Finance Officers Association.

Chris is best known for orchestrating the successful transition of Georgetown’s power supply from a single provider that was over 90% fossil fuel based, to being 100% wind and solar powered by 2017. Outside of energy, Chris acts as the City’s economist and lead contract negotiator including water rights, garbage contracts, technological systems, development agreements, etc.

Chris is married with three kids. His dissertation titled “Does Proximity Matter? Measuring the effect green space has on residential water consumption”, and can be found in the Texas State MPA ARP archives.


Solar Austin Holiday Party!

Holiday Party ImageJoin Solar Austin for our first annual holiday fundraiser!

Enjoy music, drinks, and appetizers with your favorite local solar advocates.

Don’t miss the awards ceremony to honor Austin City Council Members Delia Garza and Leslie Pool for their leadership on solar in 2015.

As you may know, Solar Austin is composed of a volunteer board and you, our supporters! While we got a lot done in 2015, just imagine what we could accomplish with an actual paid staffer! But we need your help. Come hang out, talk solar, and help us meet our goal of raising $50,000 to staff a Solar Austin “office,” coming soon near you!

Free drink and appetizers included with each ticket, plus happy hour specials available all night.

When: 6-9pm on December 8th, 2015
Where: Brick Oven Restaurant, 1209 Red River Street
Why: For good times and money raising!

Please share! You can buy tickets or donate below:


October Happy Hour

Happy Hour

The Next Generation of Solar Innovators 

Tuesday, October 27th, 2015 

This month, we will hear from an exciting panel of students from Huston-Tillotson, St. Edwards and University of Texas on solar, environmentalism, and the future of energy in Austin and beyond. We’ll hear about projects from installing solar panels on campus to researching new technologies to creating solar charging stations, and more.
 
We hope you’ll join us to hear from the next generation of solar entrepreneurs, policy makers and advocates.  

Huston-Tillotson University Goes Solar

Huston-Tillotson University has one more thing to be proud of – the school recently installed about 240 kilowatts of solar on campus.  The solar energy systems are on three buildings – the Downs-Jones Library and the Allen-Frazier and Beard-Burrowes residence halls.

Solar energy installations at Huston-Tillotson University - by Rachel Stone

Solar energy installations at Huston-Tillotson University – by Rachel Stone

This commitment to renewable energy is the university’s latest move that places it as a leader in sustainability.  The university had previously installed the SolarPump – a solar-powered charging station for laptops and cell phones.  That project brought awareness of solar energy to the students, but the new installations will make a more meaningful contribution to reducing the university’s carbon footprint.  Raising awareness remains a priority.  Students and others on campus can track how much electricity the new solar installations are producing through a web-based application.
Huston-Tillotson University Green is the New Black student group with university presidet Colette Pierce Burnette and Austin Mayor Steve Adler - photo by Rachel Stone

Huston-Tillotson University Green is the New Black student group with university presidet Colette Pierce Burnette and Austin Mayor Steve Adler – photo by Rachel Stone

Members of Huston-Tillotson’s Green is the New Black student organization participated in the unveiling of the solar energy installations.  The group has taken on a variety of projects since its inception in 2013, including the Dumpster Project.

 


August Happy Hour: Review of the 84th Legislature

Solar Austin Happy Hours are moving to the 4th Tuesday of each month! This month:

Tuesday, August 25th, 2015 at Scholz Garten, 5:30-8pm,

Wondering what happened at the last Legislative Session that may impact Solar? This month we will get a download on the good, the bad, and the ugly.  Charlie Hemmeline, the Executive Director of the Texas Solar Power Association, will will provide an overview of the recently concluded legislative session, specifically pertaining to how it affected clean energy, and give some perspective on what might be in store in the  solar public policy future.

Hemmeline photo 2

Charlie Hemmeline, Executive Director of the Texas Solar Power Association.

Come join us!    

RSVP here


Happy Hour: PACE in Travis County

Property-Assessed Clean Energy, or PACE, is an innovative financing program that enables commercial, industrial, multi-family, and agricultural property owners to obtain low-cost, long-term financing for water conservation, energy- efficiency, and renewable energy projects. You may have heard about PACE when it first went through the State Legislature in 2009, or again when it passed in 2013. But in case you haven’t heard, in March of 2015, Travis County officially adopted a local PACE program and PACE program administrator, the Texas PACE Authority!

In July, we will hear from two key players in developing the new Travis County PACE program. Travis County Commissioner Brigid Shea will speak on her efforts to bring PACE to Travis County, and Jonathon Blackburn, the Managing Director of the Texas PACE Authority, will discuss how PACE works and how to get a deal started today.

Travis County Commissioner Brigid Shea

Brigid Shea

Jonathon Blackburn, Texas PACE Authority

Jonathon Blackburn

Come join us!

When: Tuesday, July 21st, 5:30 PM to 8:00 PM (program will start around 6:15 PM)
Where: Scholz Garten (1607 San Jacinto, Austin, TX 78701)
Click here to RSVP