Happy Hour: Community Solar

Residential solar, commercial solar, municipal solar and utility scale solar can all be found in Austin, but community solar is the next big thing.  Austin Energy is currently designing a community solar program, so this is the perfect time to learn about the different options for community solar programs and what might work best for Austin.

Join us to learn how community solar can be used to expand access to the benefits of solar.  If you love solar, but haven’t been able to take advantage of it because you rent or have a shaded or badly oriented roof, you won’t want to miss this event.

When: Wednesday, April 16th, 5:30-8:00pm
Where: Scholz Garten (1607 San Jacinto St)

Please RSVP.

Stanley Florek headshotStanley Florek, CEO & Founder of Tangerine Power, is creating new opportunities for distributed energy finance and deployment in the United States. In prior roles he delivered technology solutions for hundreds of organizations, including Microsoft, John Deere, the US Air Force, and the University of Washington Medical Center. His interest in expanding access to clean energy led him to an MBA at the pioneering Bainbridge Graduate Institute for Sustainable Business, with a concentration in Sustainable Energy Solutions. Stanley is actively involved in distributed energy policy making at the state and federal levels, and co-founded the trade association Washington Local Energy Alliance (WALEA) and national advocacy group Community Power Network. Tangerine Power is Stanley’s 4th venture.

Happy Hour: Transitions with Michael Osborne (Tuesday, March 18th)

Join us for an interesting evening that will start with some good old fashioned networking with the Solar Austin community, and will be topped off by a welcome dose of discussion with one of Austin’s finest and most well known personalities, Michael Osborne, Principal at Osborne Companies, and former Special Assistant to the GM at Austin Energy, as Michael has recently retired from A.E.

Michael Osborne

When: Tuesday, February 18, 2014 from 5:30 PM to 8:30 PM, program starts at 6:30pm 

Where: Private room at Scholz Garten (1607 San Jacinto Blvd, Austin, TX 78701)

Please RSVP.

Michael is an author, inventor, and policy maker.  He has served on the steering committees  of the State of Texas Energy Policy Partnership and the Sustainable Energy Development Council under Governor Ann Richards, and on the Texas Energy Coordination Council appointed by then Governor George Bush.

He has been a renewable energy and climate change activist since the mid 1970s when he designed and built his first passive solar home.  In 1981, heinstalled the first wind farm in Texas. In 1983, his company, Osborne Solar, became the Solarex distributor for Texas.  Throughout the 90s, his company documented and leased the wind resource for the West Texas windfields.  He is one of three founding members of the Texas Renewable Energy Industries Association. 

His book, Lightland, is a philosophical look at the human potential in light of the challenge of climate change.  His book, Silver in the Mine, is a long term comprehensive energy plan for the City of Austin, Texas. His third is an allegory called Day of the Heart. His most recent work is Beyond Light and Dark. All of his works are available in bookstores and at Amazon.com. His blog can be found at earthfamilyalpha

Please join us to welcome Michael Osborne to the Solar Austin Happy Hour stage!

Please RSVP.

State Parking Garages can be found next to, behind and across from Scholz Garten. San Jacinto Blvd., 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th, and Trinity have parking garage entrances.

 

Although our happy hours are free and open to all, we hope you’ll consider donating to Solar Austin.  Help us keep solar energy growing in the Austin area.

Solar Austin Happy Hour: Austin Energy Resource, Generation, and Climate Protection Plan to 2020

You are cordially invited to join the Austin solar community for a discussion on the Austin Energy Resource, Generation, and Climate Protection Plan to 2020.

This event will welcome Matt Johnson who will share insights and perspective into the development and adoption of the Austin Energy Resource, Generation, and Climate Protection Plan to 2020 in 2010, including points on revising resource acquisition and management strategies in light of up to date market and environmental realities.

We will also welcome representatives to the Happy Hour stage to offer an environmental community perspective on this issue and describe the city’s 2 year generation plan update process.

Matt JMatthew Johnson is a Sr. Account Executive at the clean technology communications and consulting firm Mercom Capital Group. Prior to Mercom, Matt worked for Public Citizen’s Texas Office and the D.C.-based Environmental and Energy Study Institute. In 2009, he was selected to represent consumer interests on the Austin Generation Resource Planning Task Force, and organized the Clean Energy for Austin Coalition, which supported city council passing the Resource and Climate Protection Plan in 2010. He holds an MA in Sustainable Development from the SIT Graduate Institute and a BA in History from Augustana College.

When/Where: Tuesday, February 18, 2014 from 5:30 PM to 8:30 PM (CST)/Scholz Garten, 1607 San Jacinto Blvd, Austin, TX 78701 State Parking Garages can be found next to, behind and across from Scholz Garten. San Jacinto Blvd., 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th, and Trinity have parking garage entrances.

 RSVP (desired but not required)

Solar Austin Happy Hour: Pat Sweeney, Jan 22nd

Mr. Pat Sweeney, Director of Energy & Market Operations for Austin Energy, will join us this January to mark the two year anniversary of operation of the 30MW Webberville PV power plant. What have we learned by integrating that facility into the city’s portfolio of power production? How are near zero marginal cost energy sources best deployed into the ERCOT wholesale market? What operational highs and lows have occurred? Join us to hear all about how Webberville, which remains the single largest PV power facility in TX (380 acres, over 127K panels), is serving Austin and what lessons are being applied to recent and future utility scale solar RFPs from the city.

RSVP HERE


Where: Scholz Garten, 1607 San Jacinto, Austin, TX 78701

When: Wednesday, January 22nd, 5:30 – 8:00 p.m.

webberville

webberville-600x0

Austin Energy Cutting Solar Credits

Is Austin Energy joining the war on solar?

Bit by bit, our publicly owned, nationally renowned, supposedly green electric utility is trying to roll back programs that support customer owned solar.

Austin Energy is cutting the value of solar tariff, which compensates solar owners for the energy they produce, by 16 percent on January 1.

A lower solar tariff means fewer people will choose to purchase solar panels, which means our environment and local economy will suffer.

Tell the Austin City Council to stand up for clean energy and pass a resolution delaying reduction of the solar tariff.

Cutting the solar tariff isn’t the only attack under way. On January 1, Austin Energy will also confiscate all solar credits. Customers earned those credits by providing energy that the utility took and sold. Now Austin Energy is planning to take those credits away.

And just this week, the utility cut solar rebates for the second time this year. These cuts were reportedly made to keep the program from running out of funds, but Austin Energy could have asked for more funding for the solar rebate budget.

The Austin City Council governs Austin Energy, so it’s up to it to keep the utility honest.

Demand a resolution delaying the solar tariff change until after the public has had a chance to give input.

While other utilities are fighting to keep customers from generating their own electricity, Austin Energy should not play that game.

Austin Energy’s solar programs have given it and our city great publicity and helped to build a growing solar economy in the Austin area. Let’s not lose that momentum.

Our utility needs to start listening to us – the people who own it.

Send the Austin City Council an email right now.

Please note that emails will be sent using a Public Citizen action page. You can remove yourself from their list at any time.

We only have a few days to stop this attack before the City Council takes its winter break. Please help by sharing this post with friends, family and neighbors in the Austin area. If you work for a solar company, please forward this email to your customers.

Solar Austin Happy Hour: Dr. Varun Rai

Dr. Varun Rai, Assistant Professor of Public Affairs at UT and host of the UT Energy Symposium, will share insights from research, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative, into the public’s adoption behavior of rooftop solar systems.

Varun  Rai

Where: Scholz Garten, 1607 San Jacinto, Austin, TX 78701

When: Tuesday, December 17th, 5:30 – 8:00 p.m.

Solar Austin Happy Hour: Karl Rábago – Advancing the Value of Solar

Austin Energy’s value of solar tariff (VOST) has received national attention. Join us to learn more about the VOST from the man behind it and to celebrate our recent victories for local solar in Austin.

When: Tuesday, November 19th, 5:30 – 8:00 p.m.

Where: Scholz Garten, 1607 San Jacinto, Austin, TX 78701

Please RSVP here.

We welcome Karl Rábago to the stage to share his experiences developing the award-winning value of solar tariff with his team at Austin Energy, and advancing it across the nation.

This topic is especially relevant because Austin Energy just re-evaluated the value of solar tariff.

Karl Rabago smilingKarl Rábago was one of the key developers of the VOST at Austin Energy and he’s a champion of renewable energy for Texas and across the country.

For a sneak peak of a few things Karl has been working on, check out his blog, Sparks.

About Karl Rábago: Karl has over 20 years experience in electricity policy and regulation, energy markets development, and energy technology development. He operates an energy consulting practice called Rábago Energy, LLC — providing strategic, policy, regulatory, and market development consulting in the clean and innovative energy sectors. Karl serves as Chair of the Board of the Center for Resource Solutions, a San Francisco-based non-governmental organization that works to advance voluntary clean energy markets. He also sits on the Board of the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC). You can access Rábago’s short bio here, and his full resume here.

*Note: Our December and January happy hours will be at Scholz Garten, but may not be on a Tuesday.*

Defense Energy Summit

Defense Energy Summit imagesWhen: November 11-13, 2013
Where: AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center at the University of Texas at Austin

Join the Nation’s energy, business and defense leadership as they accelerate the development and deployment of new energy and infrastructure solutions and projects.

The Defense Energy Summit delivers the entire defense energy ecosystem, focusing on the needs and solutions of energy providers, project financiers, early/growth stage companies, defense contractors, military installations and purchasing agents. This unique event brings together the business of the energy industry with the urgent needs of defense community, convening National stakeholders in the building of a Defense Energy Center of Excellence.Defense Energy Summit 2013 logo

For further information about the Defense Energy Summit, please visit www.defenseenergy.com.
For information about the Defense Energy Center of Excellence, please visit www.defenseenergy.org.

For a 10% discount of the regular registration rate, please use this code: 13SAUS10

Austin Solar Victories

Many of you probably remember our concern when Austin Energy proposed slashing the solar budget by 42% for fiscal year 2014 – which we’re now in. But public outcry and our meetings with Austin City Council members made a difference. The budget was fully restored and we can expect to have another great year for solar in Austin.  That was back in September.

Sun in fistJust yesterday, Austin City Council passed a resolution that expands the city’s commitment to development local solar.  Of our existing solar goal of 200 megawatts (MW) by 2020, half will now have to be locally sited and half of that local solar will have to be distributed systems that are owned or leased by customers.

That’s great news for local jobs, because there’s no way to outsource installation of small, local solar systems.  Someone has to be here to do a site inspection, file the paperwork with Austin Energy and actually install the system on someone’s room or in their yard.

City Council also instructed the City Manager to consider adopting the 400 MW by 2020 solar goal put forth by the Austin Local Solar Advisory Committee (LSAC) into the Generation Plan update next year.

We have Council Members Chris Riley, Laura Morrison and Bill Spelman to thank for leading this effort, but the resolution was adopted unanimously, and I know that others on the Council are eager to see solar thrive in Austin.  Send the City Council a thank you note.

With the help of the many people in Austin who are concerned about climate change, air pollution, water use, creating good local jobs, and keeping electric rates affordable, we’re going to make sure the 400 MW solar goal is included in the Generation Plan in 2014.

In the meantime, we can turn our focus to ensuring that solar owners continue to be credited a fair value for the energy they put out on the grid for the rest of us to use and that more attractive solar financing options are made available.  Better financing, options for solar leasing and a community solar program are all essential for expanding access to solar for lower and middle-income families and all of us who rent.

Solar Austin Happy Hour: Climate Change and the 2013 IPCC Report

When: Tuesday, October 15th, 5:30 – 8:00 p.m.

Where: Scholz Garten, 1607 San Jacinto, Austin, TX 78701

Please RSVP here.

There are lots of great reason to support local solar and one of them is certainly the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

With this in mind, we will dedicate our October happy hour to a panel discussion of climate change, including the latest information presented in the recently released Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report.

2013 IPCC report cover

Panelist will include Luke Metzger, Director of Environment Texas, and Dave Cortez, Organizer at Sierra Club.

Our planet’s climate is changing faster than predicted, making the need for an accelerated switch to clean energy sources even more critical. As we continue to urge the Austin City Council to adopt more ambitious solar goals, knowing the facts about climate change will be important.

The full IPCC report (Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis) is available for download.

State Parking Garages (usually free after 6PM) can be found next to, behind and across from Scholz Garten. San Jacinto Blvd., 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th, and Trinity have parking garage entrances.

We hope to see you there!