Author Archive: Shane Johnson

Solar Austin Happy Hour: Equity and Inclusion in the Solar Industry

This month we are hosting a panel on how to make the solar industry more inclusive, equitable, and diverse for our November 2018 Happy Hour.

The panelists will be:

  •  Rubén Cantú, Director of Inclusive Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the University of Texas at Austin;
  • Jenn Goodwillie, Counsel at Counsel at EDP Renewables North America (EDPR), representing WRISE (Women in Renewable Industries and Sustainable Energy);
  • Kazique Jelani Prince, Senior Policy Advisor & Education Coordinator in the Office of Mayor Steve Adler and Project Manager from the Mayor’s Task Force on Institutional Racism & Systemic Inequities; and
  • Karen Magid, Director of Sustainability and STEM at Huston-Tillotson University.

When: Tuesday, November 27th, 5:30-8:00 p.m.
Where: Scholz Garten, 1607 San Jacinto Blvd
RSVP now for this engaging and important conversation.

The panel will examine barriers that employers face to systematically make businesses, nonprofits, and the industry as a whole, more welcoming, inclusive and accountable spaces for underrepresented people and some of the solutions to these issues. This includes examining why people of color, women, LBGTQ+ people, and others often remain excluded from businesses’ recruitment strategies and leadership development.

Panelists will discuss best practices for outreach and inclusion, as well as retention and leadership development to help minority employees succeed. The discussion will a look at how to ensure an organization’s leadership understands the root causes of employment inequity and how to address the inequities that current and employees prospective employees face.

Solar Austin Happy Hour: Michael Osborne on Electric Transportation

The recent dire report on climate change from the IPCC, which affirmed we only have until 2030 to solve the climate crisis, is a powerful reminder of how urgently we need to transform our society to no longer use fossil fuels. Improving transportation and reducing emissions from this sector have remained largely intractable in Austin—something of great concern since transportation produces a third of our city’s emissions.

The City of Austin has expanded its fleet of electric vehicles (EVs) in recent years, and Austin Energy recently received a grant to install more EV charging stations around the city. However, we still have a long way to go to transition our transportation sector away from fossil fuels.

We are excited to welcome Michael Osborne, former special assistant to the General Manager at Austin Energy and co-founder of Texas Renewable Energy Industries Alliance (TREIA), to discuss how transportation transformation is the next building block in the fight for our climate and a zero-carbon world. Michael will also introduce the Texas Electric Transportation Resources Alliance (TxETRA), which he co-founded, and talk about what the organization has accomplished so far.

When: Tuesday, October 23rd, 5:30-8:00 p.m.
Where: Scholz Garten, 1607 San Jacinto Blvd
RSVP now to join this interesting conversation.

We hope you will join us for this conversation with a standout clean energy industry thought-leader about what the trail-blazers in electric vehicle policy are doing.

Austin Climate and Energy Candidate Forums

Elections are coming up and it’s critically important that we not only vote, but that we make informed votes.  Do you know where the candidates running for Austin mayor and city council stand on important climate change and energy issues?  What do they see as the problems and what solutions are they proposing?

If you’re not sure, don’t worry—there’s still time to get the information you need to make an informed decision on Election Day.

Solar Austin, 350 Austin, Earth Day Austin, and Shades of Green are hosting three candidate forums so that candidates running for Austin mayor and city council can speak to Austinites about their climate change and energy priorities.

Mayoral Climate and Energy Candidate Forum
Tuesday, October 2nd, 6:30-9:00 p.m.
 First Unitarian Universalist Church of Austin (4700 Grover Ave)
Participating Mayoral Candidates: Mayor Steve Adler, Laura Morrison, Travis Duncan, and Alex Strenger
RSVP for the Mayoral Climate and Energy Candidate Forum.

District 8 and District 9 Climate and Energy Candidate Forum 
When: Tuesday, October 9th, 6:30-9:00 p.m. 
Where: Wildflower Church (1314 E Oltorf St) 
Participating District 8 Candidates: Rich DePalma, Bobby Levinski, Frank Ward 
Participating District 9 Candidates: Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo, Danielle Skidmore, Linda O’Neal 
RSVP for the Districts 8 and 9 Climate and Energy Candidate Forum.


District 1 and District 3 Climate and Energy Candidate Forum 
When: Tuesday, October 16th, 6:30-9:00 p.m. 
Where: Dickey-Lawless Auditorium at Huston-Tillotson University•900 Chicon St, Austin, TX 78702
Participating District 1 Candidates: Natasha Harper-Madison, Mariana Salazar, Lewis Conway Jr., Reedy Spigner III, Mitrah Avini
Participating District 3 Candidates: Council Member Pio Rentería, Justin Jacobson, Susana Almanza, and Amit Motwani 
RSVP for the Districts 1 and 3 Climate and Energy Candidate Forum.

In addition to asking our questions, we will accept questions from the audience, so these will be great opportunities to ask your questions related to climate change or energy policy.

We’re excited to hear from the candidates to hear what questions are on your mind.

Solar Austin Happy Hour: Valuing Solar and Distributed Energy Resources

The explosive growth of renewable energy throughout the US, including here in Austin, continues thanks to technological and policy innovations such as the value of solar tariff incentive used here in Austin. Nevertheless, funding and implementing wide-scale storage of renewable energy remains a challenge, particularly for distributed energy resources (DER), such as rooftop solar.

We are excited to announce that Karl Rábago, Executive Director of the Pace Energy and Climate Center (PECC), will discuss these and related renewable energy innovations as our September Happy Hour speaker. He will be joining us via Skype, but don’t worry – the rest of your Solar Austin friends will be there in person. Mr. Rábago will delve into the development of value of solar tariffs in different markets as well as its potential role in the adoption of DER storage. As the former Vice President of Distributed Energy Services at Austin Energy who led the way in creating the first value of solar tariff, Mr. Rábago will be a particularly insightful speaker on this topic.

When: Tuesday, September 25th, 5:30-8:00 p.m.
Where: Scholz Garten, 1607 San Jacinto Blvd
RSVP now to join this interesting conversation.

Mr. Rábago is the Executive Director of the PECC, at the Pace Law School in White Plains, New York. The PECC mission is to protect the earth’s environment through solutions that transform the ways that society supplies and consumes energy. Mr. Rábago has some 25 years experience in energy and climate policy markets. He 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). Mr. Rábago also is co-director and principal investigator for the Northeast Solar Energy Market Coalition, a US DOE SunShot Initiative Solar Market Pathways project.

We hope you will join us for this discussion on cutting edge innovations in solar and energy storage policy with a true industry thought-leader