Author Archive: mattw

Happy Hour: Transitions with Michael Osborne (Tuesday, March 18th)

Join us for an interesting evening that will start with some good old fashioned networking with the Solar Austin community, and will be topped off by a welcome dose of discussion with one of Austin’s finest and most well known personalities, Michael Osborne, Principal at Osborne Companies, and former Special Assistant to the GM at Austin Energy, as Michael has recently retired from A.E.

Michael Osborne

When: Tuesday, February 18, 2014 from 5:30 PM to 8:30 PM, program starts at 6:30pm 

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

Please RSVP.

Michael is an author, inventor, and policy maker.  He has served on the steering committees  of the State of Texas Energy Policy Partnership and the Sustainable Energy Development Council under Governor Ann Richards, and on the Texas Energy Coordination Council appointed by then Governor George Bush.

He has been a renewable energy and climate change activist since the mid 1970s when he designed and built his first passive solar home.  In 1981, heinstalled the first wind farm in Texas. In 1983, his company, Osborne Solar, became the Solarex distributor for Texas.  Throughout the 90s, his company documented and leased the wind resource for the West Texas windfields.  He is one of three founding members of the Texas Renewable Energy Industries Association. 

His book, Lightland, is a philosophical look at the human potential in light of the challenge of climate change.  His book, Silver in the Mine, is a long term comprehensive energy plan for the City of Austin, Texas. His third is an allegory called Day of the Heart. His most recent work is Beyond Light and Dark. All of his works are available in bookstores and at His blog can be found at earthfamilyalpha

Please join us to welcome Michael Osborne to the Solar Austin Happy Hour stage!

Please RSVP.

State Parking Garages can be found next to, behind and across from Scholz Garten. San Jacinto Blvd., 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th, and Trinity have parking garage entrances.


Although our happy hours are free and open to all, we hope you’ll consider donating to Solar Austin.  Help us keep solar energy growing in the Austin area.

Solar Austin Happy Hour: Austin Energy Resource, Generation, and Climate Protection Plan to 2020

You are cordially invited to join the Austin solar community for a discussion on the Austin Energy Resource, Generation, and Climate Protection Plan to 2020.

This event will welcome Matt Johnson who will share insights and perspective into the development and adoption of the Austin Energy Resource, Generation, and Climate Protection Plan to 2020 in 2010, including points on revising resource acquisition and management strategies in light of up to date market and environmental realities.

We will also welcome representatives to the Happy Hour stage to offer an environmental community perspective on this issue and describe the city’s 2 year generation plan update process.

Matt JMatthew Johnson is a Sr. Account Executive at the clean technology communications and consulting firm Mercom Capital Group. Prior to Mercom, Matt worked for Public Citizen’s Texas Office and the D.C.-based Environmental and Energy Study Institute. In 2009, he was selected to represent consumer interests on the Austin Generation Resource Planning Task Force, and organized the Clean Energy for Austin Coalition, which supported city council passing the Resource and Climate Protection Plan in 2010. He holds an MA in Sustainable Development from the SIT Graduate Institute and a BA in History from Augustana College.

When/Where: Tuesday, February 18, 2014 from 5:30 PM to 8:30 PM (CST)/Scholz Garten, 1607 San Jacinto Blvd, Austin, TX 78701 State Parking Garages can be found next to, behind and across from Scholz Garten. San Jacinto Blvd., 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th, and Trinity have parking garage entrances.

 RSVP (desired but not required)

Solar Austin Happy Hour: Dr. Varun Rai

Dr. Varun Rai, Assistant Professor of Public Affairs at UT and host of the UT Energy Symposium, will share insights from research, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative, into the public’s adoption behavior of rooftop solar systems.

Varun  Rai

Where: Scholz Garten, 1607 San Jacinto, Austin, TX 78701

When: Tuesday, December 17th, 5:30 – 8:00 p.m.

City Council Meeting – May 23rd, 2013 | Austin Energy Governance

We encourage Austin Energy customers and city residents to attend the City Council meeting this Thursday, May 23rd.  Two items concerning Austin Energy governance appear to be on the agenda.

Per an Austin American Statesman article that was published on the front page 5/22/2013, the ordinance to create an appointed board might be shelved. The ordinance remains on the posted agenda as Item #29.  Check the agenda the day of the event.

An ordinance to create a dedicated council sub-committee to encourage more continual oversight of AE by council is to be considered as well. Item #71.

For reference:

  • Council work session video:
  • Solar Austin’s position on these items remains unchanged – link.  We think that both these proposals are premature and a better problem definition needs to be produced as well as a better process of public engagement defined and employed before a change in governance is enacted.

Solar Austin Happy Hour: A town hall meeting regarding Austin Energy Governance

We’ve moved our Happy Hour location to the 29th Street Ballroom at Spiderhouse (2908 Fruth St, Austin, TX.).


Where:  Spiderhouse, 29th Street Ballroom

When:   Wednesday, March 20.  HH start at 6:30 pm, Discussion starts at 7 pm

Please RSVP

Please join us for what may be the first but hopefully will not be the last advertised venue for public discussion of changes to Austin Energy Governance.

austin city hall

City Council is proposing creation of a new board that will have hiring and spending authority. We will provide some overview of the issue and then invite attendees to share their questions and opinions with the group. We intend to have persons on hand who can answer questions, share experience regarding CPS (which has a board structure similar to the one proposed), and share perspective on the purported goals of the change.

AE Service Area

Who joins the board and how?  What are the implications for the solar industry,  the progressive programs that have earned AE national recognition, and the utility’s relationship to the city and its ultimate owners – its citizens?

A new body that can set policy and influence rates merits as much or more discussion than the rates themselves.   Please RSVP

Supporting Materials, posted on the City of Austin’s City Council Meeting Agenda
#41:  Approve a resolution directing the City Manager to prepare a comparative report evaluating the performance of both Texas and national public utilities that are governed in whole or in part by an independent board, both individually and with respect to Austin Energy’s performance and policy goals.

For reference:  Austin American-Statesman editorial from March 5, 2013