Solar Austin Happy Hour: Solarize! (Today!)

When it comes to ramping up distributed solar, it’s not all about technology improvements and policy. Solarize bulk purchasing programs around the country are helping neighbors use their combined buying power to make going solar cheaper and faster.  Come hear Larry Howe from Plano Solar Advocates talk about their experience running a solarize program and let’s see if we can bring the lessons learned to Austin.

When: Tuesday, July 15, 5:30 pm to 8:00 pm (program starts at 6:15 pm)
Where: Scholz Garten (1607 San Jacinto, Austin, TX 78701)
RSVP here.

 Larry Howe, co-founder Plano Solar Advocates

Since retiring in 2011 from a long-term engineering career in the telecommunications industry, Larry has been pursuing volunteer advocacy work in renewable energy, and more specifically solar energy in Texas.  Along with other Live Green in Plano volunteers, in 2012 he co-founded Plano Solar Advocates (PSA), a grassroots volunteer group of Plano citizens whose mission is to increase awareness and expand the use of solar energy for electricity generation in Plano.  He was recently elected to the board of directors of the Texas Solar Energy Society, a non-profit advocacy and education group that Solar Austin is a chapter of.

Larry has a talent for making solar simple to understand and an exciting way to bring neighbors together.  His work in Plano and other cities in the DFW area should serve as inspiration for people in all parts of Texas.

Join us to learn how solarize is working to expand the use of solar.

Going Solar to Help Control Rising Electric Bills

Mike Fisher lives in southeast Austin with his wife and three daughters. They recently installed solar panels on their home. Mike knows that as his daughters get older their need for energy will increase. He installed solar panels on his home in order to meet his family’s energy needs.

Solar Customers – Mike Fisher from Solar Austin on Vimeo.


Solar Success Stories Campaign Launch!

Solar is doing wonderful things in the Austin community – reducing electric bills, creating jobs and making Austin more sustainable.  That’s why we’re bringing you a short (around 2 min) video each Saturday highlighting someone who is directly benefiting from solar energy.  Of course we’re all benefiting in numerous ways, including from cleaner air and a growing economy.

Solar Customers – Daniel Browning from Solar Austin on Vimeo.

Daniel Browning is an economist and homeowner in southwest Austin. He and his wife got their solar system and August and are enjoying greatly reduced energy bills and doing their part to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels.

All videos will be posted on Solar Success Stories page of our website as they are released.


Solar Austin Happy Hour: Nonprofits Going Solar

Solar energy isn’t just for homeowners and businesses, some of the wonderful nonprofits in Austin are seeing the benefits as well.  As an affordable energy option, solar can help keep costs low and allow nonprofits to spend their precious resources on other needs.

There has been a flurry of new projects in the nonprofit sector, broadening the reach of solar energy in Austin. Come hear from some of the local nonprofit leaders who have embraced solar.

Lifeworks solar installation - Photo courtesy of Meridian Solar

Lifeworks solar installation
Photo courtesy of Meridian Solar

When: Tuesday, June 17, 2014 from 5:30pm to 8:30pm
(program starts at 6:30pm)

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

Please RSVP.

Speakers will include:

  • Sunshine Mathon, Design & Development Director at Foundation Communities
  • Mitch Weynand, Chief Operating Officer at LifeWorks
  • Likely one or two other speakers as well.

These civic-minded individuals will share information about their organizations’ recent solar projects, including why they did it, how they made it happen, and what their experiences have been.

Solar Austin Happy Hour with Austin Energy’s New Solar Manager, Danielle Murray

Danielle Murray photoDanielle Murray, Austin Energy’s new Manager of Solar Energy Services will be featured at the next Solar Austin Happy Hour!

When: Tuesday, May 20, 2014 from 5:30pm to 8:30pm
(program starts at 6:30pm)

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

Please RSVP.

Most recently, Danielle has been the Renewable Program Manager for the City and County of San Francisco, where she led efforts to develop streamlined permitting and innovative financing mechanisms, served as chair of the Mayor’s renewable energy task force, managed Solar America Cities and SunShot grant awards from the US DOE to reduce solar soft costs, coordinated district energy research and development, and engaged in extensive public and industry outreach.

This will be a great opportunity to ask questions about Danielle’s ideas for growing and improving solar programs in Austin.

Please help us welcome Danielle to Austin!

More Information and RSVP here.

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.

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.