Category: Solar Austin

March Happy Hour – Solar for Low-Income Customers

SolarHost San AntonioThere was a time when solar energy was only accessible to those with cash on hand to buy a system outright. Then financing for solar became common place and middle income people with decent credit scores could go solar without paying up front. Now, there is finally a focus on making solar accessible for low-income residents as well. San Antonio’s electric utility – CPS – has launched an innovative new program called Solar Host that allows customers to benefit from solar without making any investment.

At the same time, CPS has rolled out its first community solar program. The program – called Roofless Solar – is ideal for customers who want go solar, but don’t have a suitable roof or other space on their own property. With community solar, a shaded roof or a roof in need of repair is no longer a barrier to going solar.

WHEN: Tuesday, March 28 (5:30 – 8:00 p.m.)

WHERE: Scholz Garten, 1607 San Jacinto Blvd, Austin

RSVP: Please RSVP and make a donation, if you wish to support our work.

SPEAKERS: CPS is working with a private developer to implement the Solar Host program, so both Rick Luna from CPS and Tuan Pham from PowerFin Partners will speak at our happy hour.

Rick LunaRick Luna is Sr. Manager, Product Development for CPS Energy. Rick oversees a program portfolio that includes a variety of solar, demand response and energy efficiency offerings for residential and commercial customers. Rick’s team is instrumental in achieving the Save for Tomorrow Energy Plan (STEP) goal of reducing demand by 771 MW by 2020. Rick’s work has included account management, rate design and economic development. He holds a B.A. in economics from Columbia University.

Tuan PhamTuan Pham is the head of PowerFin, a solar development, financing, and operating company, with offices in Austin and San Antonio. Throughout his career, Tuan has focused on areas where energy and finance converge. Prior to his role in business development at HelioVolt, a thin-film solar company, Tuan covered energy and chemical companies at Morgan Stanley and Banc of America Securities in New York. Tuan’s experience also includes time at the Austin Clean Energy Incubator and Strategic Value Partners, a $5 billion hedge fund, where he served as a Director overseeing energy and industrial investments. Tuan also served on the Austin Local Solar Advisory Committee, a City Council-appointed committee to devise a plan for citywide solar development.


Solar Austin Seeks Part-Time Communication & Event Coordinator

GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF POSITION:  

Solar Austin’s mission is to accelerate the transition to clean renewable energy in Central Texas to build a healthy community and a strong local economy.  Solar Austin is currently a 100% volunteer run organization.  Solar Austin works with utilities (mostly Austin Energy) and decision makers to improve and expand solar programs and policies and works to educate the public through monthly happy hours with speakers, emails, social media and other events.  

The Solar Austin Communication and Event Coordinator will work under the supervision of the President or another member of the Board.  The Communication and Event Coordinator will take on many of the routine duties required to host monthly happy hour events as well as other administrative and research duties, as assigned.

We expect this position will require 20-30 hours of work per month, depending on what events and other activities we have planned.

SPECIFIC RESPONSIBILITIES:

  1. Attend monthly Solar Austin board meetings on the 3rd Wednesday of each month from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
  2. Coordinate and Attend monthly happy hours on the 4th Tuesday of each month from 5 to 8pm (including setup). Coordination includes:
    • Speaker Coordination: working with Board Members to identify happy hour speakers, contacting and confirming speakers at least 6 weeks in advance, putting together short biographies, photos and a brief descriptions of speaker and topic.
    • Event Marketing (at least 1 month in advance): creating an Eventbrite invitation for each event, posting happy hour information to the Solar Austin website, sending an email blast to the Solar Austin supporter list, creating event pages on  Facebook and MeetUp, and effectively promoting all events on Facebook, Twitter, MeetUp and any other useful platforms and calendars.
    • Event Management: Bring all needed materials to and from event and staff the sign-in table.  Show people where to sign in; collect donations; be welcoming and answer questions (or direct questions to a board member).
  3. Manage sign-in sheets and petitions by adding contacts to Solar Austin database.
  4. Communications: Write regular bi-monthly  blog posts on Solar Austin website.  Share posts via the Solar Austin Facebook and Twitter accounts. Post daily updates to the Solar Austin Facebook and Twitter accounts.
  5. Assist with solar, utility, and other research as needed.
  6. Other administrative duties as assigned.

REQUIREMENTS:

Education:  High school diploma or GED required; some college work prefered

Knowledge: How to utilize social media to engage the public; some knowledge about solar energy and/or policy

Work Experience:  Some previous professional experience required; experience putting on events and using social media professionally strongly desired

Skills:  Excellent written and oral communication skills; well organized; good computer skills (experience with WordPress required; basic HTML beneficial, but not required); good social media skills (particularly Facebook and Twitter); graphic design and video skills valued, but not required  

Capabilities:  Self-motivated; organized; ability to work independently, desire to learn about and advance solar energy policies and programs

APPLY

To apply, email info@solaraustin.org with your resume, cover letter, writing sample and social media samples.


February Happy Hour – Bruce Melton on Climate Change

Join us for a visually stimulating discussion of the challenge of our age: climate change. The topics that may be covered are enumerated below and with some audience input a select few will be explored.

Bruce Melton

Bruce Melton, PE

Bruce Melton is a science author and filmmaker, outreach specialist, professional engineer with primary research in stormwater treatment, and CEO of the Climate Change Now Initiative (nonprofit 501c3). Founded in 2005, the Initiative has created over 400 reviews of academic climate science literature, 50 popular press articles, two experimental documentaries (rockumentaries), a book, and 36 songs. ClimateDiscovery.org

Bruce holds a unique perspective built on personal observations collected from around North America and Greenland, dedicated review of scientific publication, and a clear understanding of the profound risks with which we are encumbering ourselves. Yet he combines this understanding with a deep optimism regarding what can be done to confront such risk.

February 28, 5:30 – 8:00 p.m.
Scholz Garten
1607 San Jacinto St.
Please RSVP

The Climate Change Now Initiative, the oldest independent climate science education organization in the world, presents scientific and policy interpretation of the most critical new scientific publishing and global developments of 2016. The program’s backdrop is the Initiative’s field work in reporting major climate impacts happening now across North America and Greenland. What Climate Change Now considers critical to the discussion includes:

  • Ecoregime change( forest die-off) in high latitude forests of Western North America
  • Apparent drought where an increased warm season can create drought conditions even with above normal precipitation
  • Increasing extreme weather
  • Abrupt sea level rise and beach disintegration ongoing on barrier island beaches in Texas
  • Dramatic increase in Greenland ice discharge
  • Ongoing shutdown of the Gulf Stream
  • Collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet:
        New modeling of timelines and dramatically increased rate of collapse
        Feedback from warming induced increase in sea ice
        Prevention of complete collapse initiation through ocean heat content reduction
  • The history of current climate reform strategies and their efficacy considering successful implementation
  • Definition of Dangerous Climate Change and new developments reducing the dangerous limit
  • Global Warming Psychology: a description of the disconnection between climate science, the public, policy makers, and environmental advocates,  and the role of global warming psychology in increasing climate science awareness
  • The psychology of a healthy climate, what this is and how we can achieve it
  • The need for strong negative emissions
  • Well-developed industrial scale atmospheric CO2 capture technology, the controversy over economic feasibility and a “license to pollute” given the opportunity to remove CO2 directly from the atmosphere
  • The demise of fossil fuels and the ongoing disconnection of CO2 emissions from future scenario projections, the role of fracking and dramatically reduced costs of alternative energy, and implications of future cost reductions of solar PV and fugitive emissions from methane.

January 2017 Happy Hour – EV Charging Infrastructure

Electric vehicles are poised to transform transportation.  Effective charging solutions are critical to that transformation.

Established in 2007, Smart Charge Residential was born right here in Austin, TX as one of the first companies in America to focus exclusively on electric vehicle charging station (EVSE) installation and has been delivering that promise across Texas ever since. For the past few years Smart Charge Residential has worked closely with industry leading companies like as Tesla Motors providing home charging station installation services for their customer base, in addition to other electric vehicle EV OEM’s, e.g. Nissan, BMW, Ford, Chevrolet, etc. Smart Charge Residential has also established working contracts with local utility companies like Austin Energy in an effort to both grow and maintain the City’s valued public EV charging station infrastructure. As one of ChargePoint’s leading distribution partners, Smart Charge Residential is “plugging-in” the gap between EV drivers and their much needed ease of access to power.

Join us for a happy hour presentation and discussion with Smart Charge Residential CEO Joseph Barletta.

January 24, 5:30 – 8:00 p.m.
Scholz Garten
1607 San Jacinto St.
Get your ticket/RSVP.

Joseph Barletta of Smart Charge Residential“Imagine a company intellectually immersed inside the EV market with master certified electricians installing today’s most advanced EV charging systems, laid out strategically across Texas. An entity whose single focus is to provide a complete turnkey solution for their Residential, Commercial and Industrial customers with the highest quality standards in customer service and craftsmanship. Pioneers continuing to provide all EV drivers with the most attractive, affordable and reliable means of EV charging available. Now imagine that company inside every major metropolitan city across America and what such deployment can do to accelerate the advent of EV’s in a worldwide effort to reverse the damaging affects of CO2 emissions on our planet. “That’s the driving force behind Smart Charge Residential” says CEO, Joseph Barletta. “The sheer presence of a Smart Charge Residential inside the marketplace will encourage a general sense of security, piece of mind, reliability, service expertise and understanding for EV’s from today’s mainstream consumers. Such focus is critical to accelerating EV adoption as we move forward with restoring our planet to an environment our children’s children can enjoy. This is the single most important factor that drives our intensity and lays the foundation for our company’s mission.” Barletta is now working on Smart Charge America, SCR’s parent company, in an effort to continue scalability across the US.


October Happy Hour: Texas Energy Policy

In honor of this year’s election season, and given that the election falls 10 short days later, we have chosen to focus on the body politic with a party based panel on:

TEXAS ENERGY POLICY

October 25, 5:30 – 8:00 pm
Scholz Garten
1607 San Jacinto St.
Please RSVP.

Some knowledgeable and good-natured persons have agreed to take up the mantel of their political party, wear a partisan hat in public & discuss energy policy – remarkable and appreciated.

When Solar Austin talks energy, we typically mean the optimally distant nuclear fires of the Sun and a quiet panel on your roof. But when in TX one should be ready to talk knowledgeably about oil and gas, its regulatory body – the Texas Rail Road Commission, as well as the many renewable options with which Texas is blessed. All these energy sources will be important to TX for decades to come and become more interesting and intertwined as transportation becomes more electrified and the means and the materials of these systems become more highly engineered and dependent on our chemical, manufacturing and design prowess. The speakers we have lined up are capable of covering much of this ground.

lon-burnam Democratic Party – Lon Burnam is an experienced 9 term (1997-2015) TX Representative from District 90 in Ft. Worth and we are honored to have him join us. He was considered the top candidate in his primary run for the TX Railroad Commission this year. Despite endorsements from many national organizations and several of Texas’ major newspapers he was defeated in the Democratic primary to the surprise of many Texas Observers but has many earned insights to share.

 

 

katswiftGreen Party – kat gruene, is a current candidate for TX Representative District 51 but is joining us principally to share a decade of experience as a Co-chair and at-large State Executive Committee member of the Green Party of Texas. She has dedicated herself to expanding access to the Texas electoral process for the past fifteen years.

 

 

 

mark-miller Libertarian Party – Dr. Mark Miller is joining us in his capacity as Vice-Chair of the Libertarian Party of Texas. He is steeped in TX energy matters as he has indeed written the book on the Texas RailRoad Commission (see the book cover below), had a varied career in the oil and gas industry, and been a petroleum engineering faculty member at UT. He is also a 2016 candidate for Texas Railroad Commissioner, the top statewide office in contention this year, and leads in endorsements from the state’s major newspaper editorial boards, including the Houston Chronicle and Dallas Morning News.

Republican Party – ?? (we are still working on it…..we will accept suggestions) – The Republican party has dominated state wide offices for over 20 years so we may simply credit the party with the status quo and let that stand as everyone’s favorite straw man for good or ill – to the degree that policy has been responsible.

The intent is to focus on state policy, but as an introduction to our topic and acknowledgement of federal policy’s importance to Texas, we recommend a short reading assignment; an editorial by UT Austin’s Dr. Michael Webber in the Houston Chronicle from Oct.1st:  “Webber: Where the candidates stand on U.S. energy policy matters a great deal to Texas.”

With questions, good humor and magnanimous nature at hand, we look forward to you joining us.

Oil&Gas and TX Railroad Comm_M Miller book cover


September Happy Hour: Distributed Solar Participation in the ERCOT Market

This past fall and winter, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) – the entity that controls the electric grid that serves most of Texas – convened the Distributed Resource Energy and Ancillary Markets (DREAM) Task Force.  The purpose of the DREAM Task Force was to evaluate new rules for distributed energy resource participation in the ERCOT wholesale power market.  The DREAM Task Force vetted concepts and made recommendations.  Then it was time for ERCOT staff and stakeholders put forth market rule revisions based upon concepts vetted in the DREAM Task Force.  Dan Seif will present an update on where we are with these new rules and what it means for new profitable opportunities for distributed solar in Texas.

September 27, 5:30 – 8:00 pm
Scholz Garten
1607 San Jacinto St
Please RSVP

dan-seif_2016_09_02Dan Seif is Managing Director of Grid Economics, a clean energy policy, markets, business development, and financial advisory consulting firm.  Prior to cofounding Grid Economics, Dan was a Sr. Consultant with The Butler Firm, an Austin-area boutique clean energy legal and consulting firm.   Dan also previously led the solar program as a Principal at Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), was an investment team member of the private equity firm, US Renewables Group, and led global energy optimization and carbon emissions mitigation for the semiconductor manufacturer,  Advanced Micro Devices (AMD). Mr. Seif holds a BS and MS in chemical engineering from the University of Virginia and the University of Arizona, respectively, and an Masters of Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School.


August Happy Hour

Tuesday, 8/23/2016

We have no speaker lined up for this month but the venue will still be available for our use. For those hardy folks who are not using the final days of summer to travel outside of Austin, we invite you to beat the heat and support our venue by coming to Sholz Garten to socialize and talk solar.

Scholz Garten
5:30 – 8:00 pm
1607 San Jacinto St

July Happy Hour: Perspectives on Utilities – Where Does Solar Fit In?

As solar, storage, demand response, and energy efficiency continue their ascent, new utility business models are emerging that align utilities’ financial incentives with increasing DERs. What are they? How do they work? And which models are most likely to win out?

This month, we will hear from Mark Kapner and Doug Lewin for two perspectives on utility business models and how they interact with emerging issues around solar and clean energy.

 Tuesday, July 26, 2016
5:30 – 8:00 pm
Scholz Garten
1607 San Jacinto St

This Month’s Speakers:

Mark KapnerMark Kapner, PE, Partner, MV Green Power LLC, is also the Engineering Manager of Frontier Associates in Austin, Texas. He is a nationally-recognized authority in helping electric utilities expand their use of wind, solar and bio-energy and has spoken at dozens of national and international renewable energy conferences.

As Senior Strategy Engineer at Austin Energy (AE) from 1999-2011, Mark developed AE’s GreenChoice Program, the nation’s leading renewable energy marketing program. He also was instrumental in launching Plug-In Partners, the AE-led campaign that persuaded the automobile industry to build plug-in hybrid vehicles. Mark originated the dual storage media system for integrating off-peak wind energy and solar thermal energy to produce utility-scale dispatchable power. He has over 30 years of experience in energy technology, environmental engineering and renewable energy policy.

Prior to joining Austin Enegy, Mark launched TerraSolar USA, a solar photovoltaic company based in New Jersey, and served as a Research and Development Manager for the New York Power Authority. He has a BS in Engineering Science from the State University of NY at Stony Brook and a Masters in Public Policy and Management from Carnegie Mellon University.

Doug LewinDoug Lewin, VP, Regulatory Affairs of Market Devleopment, leads CLEAResult’s policy efforts. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, with offices in more than 70 cities in the U.S. and Canada, CLEAResult designs, markets, and implements energy efficiency programs for utilities and businesses.

Prior to joining CLEAResult, Lewin was the founding Executive Director of the South-central Partnership for Energy Efficiency as a Resource (SPEER).SPEER was recognized by the US Department of Energy as the regional energy efficiency organization (REEO) for Texas and Oklahoma, working with a network of REEOs throughout the US to advance energy efficiency. Under his leadership from 2011-16, SPEER grew from a start-up organization to a multi-million dollar organization with over 50 members.

Lewin also worked at the Texas Legislature for five years, primarily on clean energy issues for three different elected officials in the House and Senate. Lewin earned his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the University of Texas at Austin.

 

Bonus networking opportunity at this happy hour:

We are pleased to offer a new way to make your networking more effective at this happy hour: the wanah app. Download ahead of time, and write down one thing you want, and one thing you have to offer here.
At the event, you’ll both find and help others easily with this app.

 


June Happy Hour: Solar in Texas, The Emperor Has No Clothes

Texas has the most solar energy potential of any state in the U.S., but has been slow to adopt solar technology.  Now that’s changing and all kinds of entities – wholesale electric providers, retail electric providers, businesses and individuals – are looking to solar as an affordable, reliable source of energy.Maura Yates will speak about the values of solar in Texas, in particular within the deregulated power market. As solar is entering the mainstream, the mechanisms and strategies of making the values of solar accessible are sophisticated and validated. Join us for a forward discussion.

When: Tuesday, June 28, 5:30-8:00 p.m.
Where: Scholz Garten, 1607 San Jacinto

RSVP

 Maura YatesMaura Yates is the Vice President of Sustainable Solutions for MP2 Energy where she is responsible for solar retail and generation solutions. Prior to joining MP2 Energy 2 ½ years ago, Ms. Yates oversaw government affairs for the Rocky Mountain and Southwest regions for SunEdison and developing DG and utility-scale solar solutions for Arizona Public Service. Maura also spent time with Robert Kennedy’s environmental organization, Riverkeeper, prior to joining Standard Renewable Energy, a DG and energy efficiency provider previously based out of Houston during the mid-to-late 2000s. She was named one of the ‘Top 50 Smart Grid Pioneers of 2015’ by SmartGrid Today magazine.
We hope you will join us for an engaging conversation!

Austin Energy Community Solar Survey

Later this year, Austin Energy will begin offering its customers an opportunity to sign up to receive solar energy generated at community solar installations located at the Kingsbery Substation in East Austin, and, in the future, from other solar installations located throughout Austin.  Community solar will allow customers who rent or whose homes cannot be fitted with their own solar panels to be able to purchase local solar energy.

Austin Energy is currently considering several options for how to allow residential customers to enroll in its community solar program, including:

  • a capacity-based subscription with an upfront fee and monthly production credits (Austin Energy estimates investment would pay back in 13 years, with $90/month in savings for 12 more years);
  • a capacity-based subscription with a monthly fee and monthly production credits (Austin Energy estimates the average customer would save $6/month);
  • a fixed community solar fee that would replace the power supply adjustment (PSA) fee (this would initially be more expensive, but could be cheaper in later years);
  • a community solar fee that would be added to the PSA (similar to GreenChoice, where customers forever pay more);
  • a customer ownership model, where customers would buy a number of panels upfront and receive monthly production credits (Austin Energy estimates investment would pay back in 15 years, with $90/month in savings for 10 more years); and
  • a low-income community solar offering subsidized through customer charges.

We encourage you to take Austin Energy’s survey, which the utility will use to help determine the most appropriate model to ensure the success of the community solar program.

Please note that you may have to enable pop-ups and if you see a note that asks for a Login ID and Password, just ignore that and click “Begin Survey.”

The survey will close on June 1st, so don’t wait!