Author Archive: KaibaWhite

Solar Austin Community Workshop on Expanding Access to Solar

We’re doing something a bit different this month. Instead of our regular happy hour, Solar Austin is hosting a community workshop to gather input on the topic of expanding access to solar.

In September, a team that will include Austin Energy staff, a couple members of the Solar Austin board and other solar policy experts will participate in a workshop hosted by the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI). This team of seven will focus on identifying ways to expand access to solar in Austin. We know that many renters and lower-income residents, particularly from communities of color, haven’t been able to take advantage of the direct benefits of solar energy.

The goal of the Solar Austin workshop will be to gather community input to help guide the team at the RMI workshop in September. We want to help develop solutions that address the needs, concerns and aspirations of the community.

Huston–Tillotson University has graciously offered to host this event and Solar Austin will provide food and drink.

WHAT: Solar Austin Community Workshop on Expanding Access to Solar
WHEN: Tues., Aug. 27, 5:30 dinner and networking, 6:00 presentation and discussion groups
WHERE: Dickey-Lawless Science Building at Huston–Tillotson University (#1 on the map)

RSVP is appreciated, so we know how much food to buy.

In addition to a short presentation to share the basics about solar and some sample programs, we’ll have facilitated group discussions to try to determine:

  • level of awareness about solar among lower-income residents
  • the main barriers that keep lower-income residents from accessing solar
  • any barriers specific to people of color
  • aspects of solar energy that excite people most
  • the most important features of a new solar program

Anyone who wants to contribute to this work is welcome, but we especially hope to get more people of color, renters and lower-income residents involved in this conversation because those are the groups that have been underserved by the current solar programs.

Ensuring equity in access to solar energy and other climate solutions is an important aspect of climate justice. Solar Austin is committed to making the benefits of solar energy accessible to everyone in the Austin community.

We hope you’ll join us and bring a friend, family member or neighbor who falls into one of the underserved customer groups.


Getting there: Huston–Tillotson University can be accessed by several bus lines. If you drive, there is free street parking on Chalmers Ave and Chicon St, and in the Huston-Tillotson parking lot off Chalmers St between 8th St and 9½ St.

2019 Solar Austin Summer Solstice Celebration

We are excited to invite you to Solar Austin’s second annual Summer Solstice Celebration! Please join us to celebrate our precious solar resources and community advocacy for renewable energy on the longest day of the year.

WHAT: 2019 Solar Austin Summer Solstice Celebration
WHEN: Friday, June 21, 5:30 – 9:00 p.m.
WHERE: Sauce Odyssey (1403 E 7th St)
BUY YOUR TICKET NOW ($10)

We’re passionate about solar policy and technology, but we also like to have fun. Join us at Sauce Odyssey to celebrate and unwind! We will have live music free beer (courtesy of Texas Beer Company), free cider (courtesy of Texas Keeper Cider), and solar car racing for the kids (and fun-loving adults). Sauce Odyssey has delicious food – including vegan options – and an inviting shady location with plenty of seating, hammocks and games.

Come have fun, eat, and drink, while getting to know other members of our community of advocates right here in Austin.

We look forward to celebrating the solstice—and community—with you on June 21st!

NOTE: We won’t have our regular happy hour event in June.

Vote Early, Vote Local, Vote Solar

Early voting is in full swing and Texans are showing up at the polls to exercise their precious right to vote.  Austinites have a petty long ballot to vote on and we know it can be difficult to get educated on all of the races.  Local leadership is critical for advancing the use of solar energy and addressing climate change though.  Climate change and energy issues aren’t often front and center in campaigns, so we worked with our partners at Earth Day ATX, Shades of Green and 350 Austin to develop a climate and energy questionnaire for the Austin mayoral and city council candidates. 

We encourage you to read the candidates responses before deciding who most deserves your vote for Austin mayor and your city council member (if your district is up for an election this year).  If you don’t have time to read the questionnaire responses though, we made a shortcut for you.  We scored all responses based on two measures:

  1. Support: How much the candidate’s response demonstrates support for expanding the use of solar energy and phasing out the use of fossil fuels, and, more generally, support for action to slow climate change and respond to the impacts of climate change. (High, Low, Medium)
  2. Knowledge: How much the candidate’s response demonstrates knowledge of the problems and potential solutions. More specific, detailed responses generally score higher, as long as they are based on facts. (High, Low, Medium)

Candidates were scored based solely on their written responses to the questionnaire.  Responses to questions asked at the candidate forums Solar Austin co-hosted, and other information (from candidate websites, for example), was not factored in.

Solar Austin is not endorsing specific candidates, but we do encourage all Austin voters to keep support for clean energy – especially solar – in mind when voting. 

Don’t forget that city elections are non-partisan, so voting “straight ticket” won’t cast a vote in the mayoral or city council races.  Keep clicking through and vote all the way down the ballot.  Many important decisions are made at the local level.

Bluebonnet Solar Tour

Solar Austin is excited to co-host the second Bluebonnet Solar Tour in partnership with the Texas Solar Energy Society and the Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative as part of the American Solar Energy Society’s National Solar Tour. The event will start at 9:00 a.m. at the Bluebonnet Eco Home in Brenham.  The Eco Home was built to demonstrate energy and water efficient building techniques, as well as the use of on-site solar and wind energy, geothermal heating and cooling, and rainwater collection. 

There will be a short Solar 101 presentation, a tour of the Eco Home, and solar installation companies on site to provide additional information.  Bluebonnet Electric Co-op representatives will explain how their process works to connect a solar installation to the grid, and how co-op members are compensated for the energy they produce. 

Free breakfast tacos, coffee and juice will be provided.  Attendees will also be entered to win a solar backpack, which can charge your phone after a sunny walk.

The self-guided tour of nearby homes with different types of solar setups will give attendees the opportunity to see solar in action. Homeowners, installers and Bluebonnet employees will be on hand at each home to talk about the installation process and answer questions.

WHAT: Bluebonnet Solar Tour
WHEN: Saturday, September 9, 9 a.m.
WHERE: 2601 Longwood Dr, Brenham, TX 77833

RSVP and get any last-minute updates here. 

And please invite any Bluebonnet Electric Co-op members you may know!

May Happy Hour: Austin Solar Policy Update

Austin Energy has been a leader on renewable energy adoption, including distributed solar for many years.  That’s both because of leadership at the utility and the Austin City Council and because of public demand for progressive energy policies.

That’s the beauty of having a democratically controlled electric utility – it’s responsive to the public.  That benefit comes with the responsibility to stay engaged.  And that’s a role we play at Solar Austin – helping people learn about the benefits of solar and then getting involved to continue improving local policies and programs to keep solar growing in the Austin area. 

Solar Austin was involved in getting the solar rebate program started at Austin Energy and we’ve worked to ensure a steady budget for the solar programs over the years.

There are several potential changes to Austin solar policies and programs in the works.  Join us to learn what we’re working on and how you can get involved.

Whether you work in the solar industry, have solar on your home or just think we need to use more solar to reduce our impact on the environment and create local jobs – we want you to get involved.

May 23, 5:30 – 8:00 p.m.
Scholz Garten
1607 San Jacinto St.
Please RSVP

You’ll hear from the Solar Austin board of directors about our vision for several policies and programs:

  • Commercial Value of Solar tariff
  • Solar for affordable housing
  • Solar for low-income customers in single-family homes
  • Solar goals
  • Solar rebates and performance-based incentives

Now is the time to get active.