Author Archive: Shane Johnson

3rd Annual Solar Austin Holiday Party

Our Annual Solar Achievement Award goes to H-E-B Grocery Company, LP this year. We chose to honor H-E-B for their stand out Hurricane Harvey relief work and extensive adoption and support of clean energy. Tickets are $25, $15 for students with valid ID, or $30 at the door and include a drink and appetizers. Get yours now to join us for a fun night supporting clean energy and good local jobs while honoring H-E-B’s support for solar power and victims of Hurricane Harvey!

Friday, December 15th, 7 – 10 p.m.
Friends & Allies Brewing Company, 979 Springdale Road #124
RSVP here.

H-E-B immediately donated $100,000 for Harvey relief, subsequently providing other monetary and volunteer support, the company’s mobile kitchens, and more that 1,000 truckloads of water in the first 72 hours of the crisis to support victims of Hurricane Harvey—support estimated to be worth a total of $3 million. On top of H-E-B’s generous disaster relief support, the company has spent over $10 million implementing solar power systems in 20 of its Austin-area stores and 2 distribution centers, which will be able to produce 4.9 millions kWh of energy per year and brings the retailer’s overall solar energy production to 12.1 million kilowatt-hours per year. Additionally, H-E-B donated $1 million to the San Antonio River Foundation to help fund Confluence Park, a project which will serve as a learning destination to teach visitors about sustainability and conservation practices like solar power and rainwater harvesting.

Live music by Jenny Parrott and her band!



Please join us to celebrate!

“Solar in Your Community Challenge” Happy Hour Presentations

Thank you everyone who was able to come out to our Happy Hour on the “Solar in Your Community Challenge” this past Tuesday night! And a huge thank you to our speakers: Eric Coffman, Scott Nguyen, and Ramsey Cripe; who represented Waco Community Solar Farm, 1PlanetSol, and Kerrville Area Solar Partners, respectively.

If you couldn’t attend, don’t worry about it. We have the presentation slides from Scott and Ramsey and are posting them here! If you have any questions, ideas, or follow up for us and/or the speakers or their organizations, please comment below or contact us.

1PlanetSol Presentation.

Kerrville Area Solar Partners Presentation.



Solar Austin Happy Hour: the Solar in Your Community Challenge

This month, Solar Austin will focus on efforts across Central Texas to make solar more accessible to low- and moderate- income families. Low- and moderate- income families represent 40% of America’s population, but less than 5% of all solar customers. These households, non-profits, and government organizations face several barriers to going solar, including limited financing options, low or no credit history, and lack of access to the 30% Federal Investment Tax Credit.

The Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative aims to make solar energy a low-cost electricity source for all Americans through efforts in collaboration with public and private partners. SunShot has given rise to many programs, including the “Solar in Your Community Challenge.”

Teams are competing for a $500,000 grand prize, and the Department of Energy has committed up to $5 million in cash prizes and technical assistance through this competition to support innovative and replicable community-based solar business models and programs that will bring solar to underserved communities. Solar Austin is excited to present representatives from three Central Texas “Solar in Your Community Challenge” teams:

  • Eric Coffman, founder and Director of Trailhead Energy, from the Waco Community Solar Farm team;
  • Scott Nguyen, PhD, founder and CEO of Braket Technologies and 1PlanetSol, and team lead for 1PlanetSol; and
  • Ramsey Cripe, an ERCOT market and regulatory analyst, from the Kerrville Area Solar Partners team.

Tuesday, October 24th, 5:30 – 8:00 p.m.
Scholz Garten, 1607 San Jacinto Blvd
RSVP here.

The Waco Community Solar Farm will significantly reduce energy costs for 87 low and moderate income families living in affordable housing by partnering with Green Mountain Energy to take advantage of a “virtual net-metering” solution. 1PlanetSol is developing the 1AustinSol Community, leveraging consumer interest and buying power to support the installation of solar on the homes of low-income families in Austin—the 1AustinSol Community will soon reach 1000 members and 100 businesses to support 100 kW of solar to benefit low-income households. Kerrville Area Solar Partners will work with a solar developer, local non-profits and property owners to install a 999 kW solar project with 100% output dedicated to support a new, lower cost rate class for qualified low- to moderate-income families and non-profit customers.

We hope you’ll join us on October 24th for this exciting conversation!

September Happy Hour: Solar PV in Africa—Challenges, Opportunities & Trends

This month, Solar Austin is going to step outside of our Austin bubble and hear about solar development in Africa. While industrialized countries face the challenge of transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable energy, many developing countries – particularly those in Africa – don’t even have widespread access to electricity. While 80% of the global population has some access to electricity, only 30% of people in Africa do. About 600 million Africans live without electricity, mostly in rural communities.

Solar is helping communities in Africa leapfrog past polluting fossil fuels to expand access to this essential service. With access to electricity comes improvement in educational opportunities, health services, and access to clean water and information. Instead of relying on massive transmission line investments, the electrification of Africa is utilizing on-site solar and micro-grids, which allow development to proceed much quicker.

This month, we will hear from Bako Ambianda, the Founder, Chairman, and CEO of Labacorp Group, and an international development specialist, business strategist, and global African entrepreneur. Mr. Ambianda will discuss his experiences facilitating off grid and large-scale solar projects in Africa including his involvement with Akon Lighting Africa. In 2012, he developed a game plan and “blue print” for tapping into Africa’s opportunities in key sectors, facilitating international solar, biomass, hydro, and hotel construction projects in 16 African countries, with clients from China, India, US, Turkey, France, and Germany. He will talk about the challenges, opportunities, and trends in developing solar in Africa.

Tuesday, September 26th, 5:30 – 8:00 p.m.
Scholz Garten
1607 San Jacinto Blvd
RSVP here.

Solar Austin is excited to present Mr. Ambianda, as our September Happy Hour speaker, and we hope you’ll join us for this exciting conversation.

August Happy Hour: Mayor Adler on Cities & Climate Change

With every passing day, society’s reliance on fossil fuels further exacerbates the climate change crisis. The reality of climate change impacts on central Texas is sobering—unless we move past fossil fuels, even more severe storms, droughts, and extreme heat will become the new normal.

Knowing these facts while watching Trump pull the US from the Paris climate Change agreement was horrifying. Fortunately, Trump’s decision has served to galvanize many local leaders to redouble their action—Austin Mayor Steve Adler is one of those local climate leaders reaffirming commitment to the Paris Accord. Solar Austin is excited to present Mayor Adler as our August Happy Hour speaker.

August 22, 5:30 – 8:00 p.m.
Scholz Garten 
1607 San Jacinto St.

Mayor Adler will share his views on the decision to pull out of the Paris agreement and how Austin fits in among a coalition of cities both taking action right now and planning future efforts to reduce our carbon footprint and general environmental impact.

Austin’s Community Climate Plan provides a roadmap for the Austin community to achieve carbon neutrality no later than 2050 through efforts to reduce and hopefully eliminate greenhouse gas emissions from electricity production, natural gas, transportation, solid waste management and industrial processes. Action items include investing in renewable energy, investment in energy storage, mass transit, expanding composting, and promulgation of electric vehicles and smart grid technologies.

Join us to hear from Mayor Adler about Austin’s efforts to reduce the community’s impact on the climate and what you can do to make a difference.