Updates

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.


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.

 


Solar Austin Happy Hour: Celebration with Leslie Libby

Leslie LibbyLeslie Libby, Austin Energy’s Solar Energy Services Project Manager, retired on February 27 after 23 years of service. This month, Solar Austin will celebrate Leslie Libby’s contributions to Austin’s solar community and look back on her exciting solar career.

Leslie’s diverse experiences range from work on off-grid PV systems to creating the solar trailer powering sound at local events, to developing the Solar Rebate Program and the award winning Solar for Schools Program.

Leslie has truly been a solar champion for Austin.  Help us thank her.

Join us in the celebration!

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

RSVP


Austin Solar Champion Retiring

Leslie LibbyLeslie Libby, Austin Energy’s Solar Energy Services Project Manager, is retiring after 23 years of service.  In 2003, she was assigned the task of developing a solar rebate program.  Leslie’s skills and desire to see solar flourish in Austin made her the perfect woman for this job.  Under her leadership, Austin Energy helped 2,100 participants install 8.7 megawatts of solar on their rooftops.

A study in 2012 found that Austin Energy had the lowest cost residential solar projects in the country.  This is thanks in no small part to the active solar market that Leslie helped to foster through the Austin Energy solar program.

Leslie has been a true champion for solar in Austin.

To recognize her years of service to the community Councilwoman Tovo will honor Leslie with the Distinguished Service Award tomorrow (Thursday, March 12).  The ceremony will be held at 5:30 p.m. in Council Chambers at City Hall.  Parking is free (with validation) in the garage under City Hall.

We hope you will attend to show your support and gratitude for all that Leslie has done to keep solar growing in Austin.


Solarize Wells Branch

Solar fever is spreading in the Austin area!  A passionate group of solar supporters is working to bring more solar to Wells Branch.

Solarize Wells BranchIt all started with a solar fair on October 28.  A couple passionate Wells Branch residents put together a great event with speakers and tabling by local solar companies, Austin Energy and Oncor (Wells Branch is split between the Austin Energy and Oncor service areas).  About 200 people from the community showed up to learn more about solar.  As one of the speakers, I provided some basic information and introduced the solarize concept – where members of a community work together to get educated about solar and pool their buying power to contract for a discount with a solar company.

Now, an enthusiastic group of Wells Branch residents have created the Solarize Wells Branch group.  They’ve already put out a request for proposals from solar installations companies.  They’re working to get residents signed up to participate in the program.

If you live in Wells Branch or a nearby neighborhood, check out the Solarize Wells Branch flier and the Solarize Wells Branch website for lots more detailed info.  Enrolling will get you connected with the organizers, who will help get your questions answered.  Don’t worry though – this doesn’t in any way commit you to actually purchasing a solar installation.


Candidate Solar Scorecards

Early voting is under way and Election Day is almost here.  Do you know who you’re voting for at the city level?

If you need some help getting started, check out our candidate solar scorecards for the City Council district and mayoral races.

While Solar Austin isn’t endorsing any particular candidates, our scorecards will help you see which candidates are more or less supportive of several programs and goals.

If you already early voted, give yourself a pat on the back and remind your friends, family and co-workers to vote too.

Happy voting!


Austin City Council Canidate Forums Offer Chance to See Who Supports Solar

Solar had a big win at the Austin City Council last week.

The Council passed a resolution that doubles the local solar goal to 200 megawatts and the residential and commercial solar goal to 100 megawatts by 2020. The resolution also said that Austin Energy should replace power from the old polluting Decker gas plant with 600 megawatts of large scale solar by 2017.

Sun in fistBut it will be up to the new City Council to make sure these ambitious new goals are implemented.

There are so many candidates running in many of the districts that it might seem difficult to learn what they all think about solar. That’s why Solar Austin is co-hosting a series of candidate forums on Austin Energy issues.

Please join us for your district candidate forum and the mayoral candidate forum.

  • Districts 6 & 10: September 12, 6 – 9 p.m., First Presbyterian Church, 8001 Mesa Dr, Austin, TX 78731
  • Districts 2 & 3: September 19, 6 – 9 p.m., Austin JATC Electrical Training Center, 4000 Caven Rd, Austin, TX 78744
  • Districts 1 & 7: September 20, 12:30 – 3:30 p.m., Northwest Recreation Center, 2913 Northland Dr, Austin, TX 78757
  • Districts 4 & 9: September 22, 6 – 9 p.m., First Unitarian Universalist Church, 4700 Grover Ave, Austin, TX 78756
  • Districts 5 & 8: September 23, 6 – 9 p.m., Treehouse, 4477 S. Lamar Blvd, #600, Austin, TX 78745
  • Mayoral: September 29, 7 – 10 p.m., First Unitarian Universalist Church, 4700 Grover Ave, Austin, TX 78756

Please click on the links and share the Facebook events with your friends, neighbors and co-workers.

Candidates will answer questions on a variety of energy topics including solar, climate change and keeping electric bills affordable for low-income customers.

If you don’t know which district you are in, you can look it up. Type in only your street address. For example, if you live at 1234 Barton Springs Rd, Apt 44, type in only “1409 Barton Springs Rd.”

The best way to make sure the next Austin City Council is supportive of solar is for solar supporters to have a presence at these events and learn which candidates will be most likely to keep solar growing in Austin.