Author Archive: Shane Johnson

Solar Austin Happy Hour: Solar Financing

We are excited to announce our July Happy Hour speaker: Paul Watson, Director of Dividend Finance. Mr. Watson will guide us through the ins and outs of solar financing and answer your questions.

Although solar panel costs have come down dramatically, the upfront costs of the technology sometimes necessitate financing for homeowners and businesses. Mr. Watson will walk us through the market outlook for solar loans and lending.

It is important to understand the context of financing from the role the Fed, capital markets, solar loans, and green bonds play, to where financial technology (fintech) platforms come in for solar growth. The differences between various lenders and the practices they use can meet some person’s or company’s needs but not others’. Lastly, Mr. Watson will tie all of this together and explain the implications for solar financing in Central Texas.

WHEN: Tuesday, July 24, 5:30-8:00 p.m.
WHERE: Scholz Garten, 1607 San Jacinto Blvd
RSVP now.

Mr. Watson was born with a passion for the environment and nature, and since he was a kid, he wanted to be a Game Warden. However, life happened and he has spent most of the past 15 years in corporate finance, business development and private equity with a primary focus on technology commercialization and growth management. In addition to his role at Dividend Finance, he spent seven years working in M&A, due diligence, market research and operational strategy in countries including China, India and Mexico. Mr. Watson is also a Partner at Climate Impact Capital, a Director of Hermes Investment Group, a Kiva Zip trustee, and a SURE Program advisory board member. He holds a BBA in Finance, minor in Spanish, speaks Mandarin Chinese, and is a native Texan.

We hope you will join us for this interesting opportunity to gain more insight into how to actually pay for solar panels to power your home or business!

Solar Austin’s Summer Solstice Celebration

We’re excited to invite you to Solar Austin’s first 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.

We’re passionate about solar policy and technology, but we also like to have fun. Join us at the Zilker Park picnic tables near the disc golf course to celebrate and unwind! We will have delicious homemade BBQ (including vegan options), watermelon, a keg of donated beer from the Texas Beer Company, non-alcoholic drinks, an open mic, and solar car racing for the kids (and fun-loving adults).

When: Thursday, June 21st, 5:30-8 p.m.
Where: Zilker Park (2100 Barton Springs Rd, Austin, Texas 78704)
RSVP now to join the Celebration!

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!

P.S. We won’t have our regular happy hour event in June.

Solar Austin Happy Hour: Business Development & Innovations in Solar

We are excited to announce that Ron Van Dell, President of Longbow Innovations, will speak at our May Happy Hour.

The recent exciting successes of solar and renewable energy technology could not have happened without extensive research and development leading to technological innovations. Mr. Van Dell will explore two recent examples of businesses successfully leading innovations.  SolarBridge Technologies developed an integrated micro-inverter solution, which is now forming the core of SunPower’s Equinox AC Module for residential rooftops.

And ViZn Energy Systems, whose story is still unfolding, is developing superior flow-battery alternatives to Li-Ion for grid-scale energy storage. Each companies’ story reveals start-up cases with hard-won lessons when it comes to technology and business model differentiation and competing against well-established businesses.

Tuesday, May 22nd, 5:30-8:00 p.m.
Scholz Garten, 1607 San Jacinto Blvd
RSVP here!

With more than 35 years of experience, Ron Van Dell has an exceptional track record of success and proven leadership skills in early-stage, turn-around, and established businesses. His background covers a broad range of industries in semiconductors and electronics—power, communications, computing, industrial control, electrical distribution, and clean tech.

As President and CEO of ViZn Energy Systems, he transformed the company from a development team to a complete business recognized as a global leader in grid-scale energy storage. As President and CEO of SolarBridge Technologies, now part of Sunpower, Van Dell led the development and launch of a ground-breaking microinverter solution for AC Solar Modules, while raising four rounds of funding.

Before SolarBridge, Van Dell served as President and CEO at Primarion (sold to Infineon), President and CEO at Legerity (spin off of Communication Division of AMD), General Manager for Dell Computer’s Dimension Line of Business ($6B in sales), and VP-GM of the Communication Products Business at Harris Semiconductor (now Intersil Corporation). He also held previous international management positions in the U.S. and in Europe at Groupe Schneider, Square D Company, and General Electric.

We hope you will join us Tuesday, May 22nd for this exciting conversation with a true business and technology trailblazer!

Local Solar Update Happy Hour Slides

Thank you to everyone who came out to our March Happy Hour and to Danielle Murray for her fantastic update on all things local solar at Austin Energy! We enjoyed the interesting, information-packed happy hour and having the full house of attendees that this presentation deserved.

In case you missed the presentation or want to review the content, Danielle Murray graciously provided us the slides she used so look no further! If you have any questions, ideas, or other things to follow up on please comment below or contact us at info@solaraustin.org.

Solar Austin Happy Hour: Austin Local Solar Update

What is Austin Energy doing locally when it comes to solar? Our city-owned utility has existing goals to reach 110 MW of local solar by 2020 and 200 MW by 2025. Austin Energy has several programs to meet these goals. Recently, Austin Energy made exciting announcements, including the completion of the new 2.5 MW La Loma community solar project, a new low-income solar program powered by La Loma, and the pilot for solar available to multifamily dwellings and affordable housing, called Shared Solar. Significant changes are also being made to the residential solar incentive program.

With the completion of La Loma, Austin Energy has expanded its community solar program to 400 more residential customers. Although there is only room left on the waitlist at the regular rate, the half set aside for the Customer Assistance Program (CAP) participants (low-income customers) is still open. CAP customers can now reduce their bill by signing up for the community solar program. Shared Solar will allow residents in a multifamily dwelling to receive a prorated portion of the value of solar credit from a single installation.

Solar Austin is excited to announce Danielle Murray, Austin Energy’s Solar Program Manager, as our March Happy Hour speaker! She will provide an update on all things local solar at Austin Energy: on the La Loma Community Solar project, the low-income solar program, Shared Solar, the upcoming changes to the residential solar incentive program, and progress toward Austin’s local solar and other renewable energy goals.

Tuesday, March 27th, 5:30 – 8:00 p.m.
Scholz Garten, 1607 San Jacinto Blvd
RSVP here.

Danielle Murray is Austin Energy’s Manager of Solar Energy Services, overseeing the utility’s renewable energy offerings and local solar programs. These include the wind-based GreenChoice program, Community Solar program, residential and commercial solar incentive programs, solar inspections, and the Value of Solar rates. Previously, Danielle was the Renewable Program Manager for the City and County of San Francisco, where she led efforts to develop the local solar market, reduce soft costs, and implement innovative financing mechanisms; coordinated wind, wave, and district energy research and development; and served as chair of the Mayor’s Renewable Energy Task Force. Prior to that, she worked for the City of Toronto’s Energy Office, where she designed and implemented the Toronto Neighborhoods Initiative which provided grants and low-interest loans to homeowners to install solar water heating systems and other energy efficiency improvements.

We hope you will join us Tuesday, March 27th for this update on Austin Energy’s solar programs. There’s lots of change happening right now, and this will be a great chance to ask your questions.