Author Archive: KaibaWhite

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: 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!