Author Archive: SuzanneSolar

Solar Austin Happy Hour: Pat Sweeney, Jan 22nd

Mr. Pat Sweeney, Director of Energy & Market Operations for Austin Energy, will join us this January to mark the two year anniversary of operation of the 30MW Webberville PV power plant. What have we learned by integrating that facility into the city’s portfolio of power production? How are near zero marginal cost energy sources best deployed into the ERCOT wholesale market? What operational highs and lows have occurred? Join us to hear all about how Webberville, which remains the single largest PV power facility in TX (380 acres, over 127K panels), is serving Austin and what lessons are being applied to recent and future utility scale solar RFPs from the city.


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

When: Wednesday, January 22nd, 5:30 – 8:00 p.m.



Join Us: Sept. 17th Happy Hour

Pecan Street Research Institute’s Latest Milestone:

pike powers lab

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

Scholz Bier Garten, 1607 San Jacinto, Austin, TX 78701 (map)

RSVP here

We invite you to join us in the exploration of recent discoveries by the Pecan Street Research Institute, along with new developments affecting the local solar community.

Solar Austin welcomes Scott Hinson, who will be presenting the latest findings of their research.

Scott Hinson headshotScott Hinson is the director of the Pike Powers Lab and is responsible for management and coordination of the research conducted there. He worked at a thin film CIGS solar module manufacturer where he led module packaging, performance, certification and reliability efforts. Prior experience includes work in the military, medical, consumer and oil and gas industries developing power supplies, precision measurement equipment and inductive heating technologies. Scott received his B.S.E.E. from The University of Texas at Austin with undergraduate specializations in both communications systems and power distribution.

The UT-based consortium Pecan Street has been steadily making headlines since it began in 2008 with a focus on testing green energy and smart-grid solutions in Austin’s Mueller neighborhood. One past project monitored the energy usage and charging patterns for plug-in electric vehicles.

This past June, Pecan Street marked a significant milestone: the opening of the Pike Powers Laboratory and Center for Commercialization, a cutting-edge space where entrepreneurs, UT students, and researchers will design energy-efficient products like solar panels and fuel cell technologies – right here in Austin, TX. The goal is to speed up the progression of energy ideas from the lab to the consumer marketplace (full announcement here).

A bonus discussion for the evening includes recent updates and activities that have an immense impact on local solar, including the 2014 solar program budget and adoption of the Local Solar Advisory Committee recommendations.

Parking is usually free in the state parking garages after 6:00 p.m.

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.

Does Austin Energy Want to Expand Green Choice?

Austin Energy’s GreenChoice program is an award-winning 100% renewable electrical supply offering that has been available to both homeowners and businesses since 2000. GreenChoice’s mission has been a critical one that has delivered billions of kWh of impact over the past 13 years. The program has been at the forefront of enabling citizens to actually green their energy supply.

Scott Burton, Board member of Solar Austin, helps growing companies with financial strategy and has dissected the historical pricing and logic of GreenChoice.
Please read his full blog “Does Austin Energy Want to Expand Green Choice?” for the details but note that, “Of specific concern is that [the proposed new program] introduces the false concepts that renewable energy is always more expensive and that it’s costs are not fixed over time.”

Citizen input will be required to keep Council from rubber stamping this proposal. Please take a moment to email all council members and tell them GreenChoice should continue being a fixed price offering, and share this information with others.

(thanks to EcoBits by EcoBrandi)

Cool House Tour

 CHT Logo no date

The 17th Annual Austin Cool House Tour        
Sunday June 2, 2013  


Once again Austin Energy Green Building and the Texas Solar Energy Society collaborate to showcase homes and projects that are designed and built to high standards of energy efficiency, comfort and attractive design. This year we have 8 homes, one duplex and one multifamily project. Learn from the homeowners and their professionals. This is a terrific resource for learning how to live comfortably in the hot Central Texas climate.

The guidebook is $20 and is your ticket to the tour.
One book per person; children 12 and under free.


*Guidebooks are available at the following locations through the day of the tour:
        Treehouse  at Westgate Shopping Center
        Zinger Hardware next to Central Market North
*Guidebooks will also be sold at Saturday May 18, 25 and June 1 at Barton Creek Farmer’s Market.

*Want to just see one house instead of the whole tour?  $5, at the door, cash please.

Last minute volunteer? Drop them a line


Solar Austin Happy Hour: Tech Innovation Beyond the Panel: Energy Optimization


Wednesday, May 15th, 6:30 – 8:30pm

Spiderhouse Cafe, 2908 Fruth Street, Austin, TX (map)

(in the back, under the big white tent)

Advancements in power converters allow modern solar installations to perform more efficiently and owners to monitor their systems accurately in real time.

On May 15th, we’ll hear from leaders in the power converter field.  Each has decades of experience to share.  We hope you’ll join us to learn more about energy optimization.


Panelist information:

Ray Burgess  Ray Burgess

Ray is the president of Draker Energy.  He has extensive experience in corporate leadership and general management with over 30 years in the technology industry.  Mr. Burgess co-founded Solar Power Technologies in 2009 and served as President and CEO through the successful merger with Draker Laboratories Inc. in August 2012.  He previously served as CEO of Teravicta Technologies Inc, a Texas based MEMS switch company and of Tao Group, a UK company delivering multimedia software solutions to the wireless industry.  Mr. Burgess spent over 20 years with the Motorola Semiconductor Products Sector and was a member of the executive team that led the company through its transition to Freescale Semiconductor and its successful IPO in July 2004.

Draker Energy was founded in 1999.  Draker is the global leader in performance monitoring and control of solar power systems. They are the first company in the United States to provide independent monitoring and performance analysis of energy produced by solar arrays. The type of independent energy metering, verification, reporting, and performance analysis we pioneered has become a key contributor to the rapid growth of the solar industry, allowing for validation and enforcement of incentive payment schemes around the world.

John Merritt  John Merritt

John has 30+ years of technical experience spanning product marketing, product development, engineering, and project management in high-tech companies.  Prior to joining Ideal Power Converters in early 2013, he spent 3 years at Draker working on both solar monitoring and solar power optimization technologies.  In additional to his interests in solar and energy storage, John is passionate about sustainable business practices, energy efficiency and water use, and the smart grid.

Ideal Power Converters has invented, patented and commercialized a revolutionary new technology that significantly improves the weight, size, cost, efficiency and reliability of electronic power converters – the conduits to modern energy.  Based on patented indirect Energy Packet SwitchingTM topology that uses a standard lightweight hardware design and embedded application-specific software, IPC serves the multi-billion dollar power conversion markets of renewable energy, electrical energy efficiency, smart grids and electric vehicles.

Paul Malone  Craig Lawrence

Craig is the VP Marketing at SolarBridge Technologies.  He is responsible for strategic marketing, product management, product marketing and marketing communications.  Prior to joining the company, Lawrence served in executive roles at SunEdison, a global leader in solar energy, including vice president of products and general manager of Sun Edison’s Residential and Light Commercial Business Unit.  Prior to SunEdison, Lawrence led the Energy Practice at IDEO, a global design and innovation firm providing product design, engineering and marketing services to leading renewable energy companies and utilities.  Lawrence also led energy investing activities as a principal at Accel Partners, a top Silicon Valley venture capital firm.  Lawrence holds a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from The University of Texas at Austin, and an M.S. and Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University.

SolarBridge Technologies offers solar module manufacturers and installers an innovative microinverter solution that makes rooftop solar simpler, more cost-efficient and reliable.  With the SolarBridge AC Module System, module manufacturers and installers can offer their customers a complete, roof-ready AC module solution.  With an integrated SolarBridge Pantheon, each AC module can perform its own power conversion.  Their on-site and web-based management system completes the solution for 24/7 monitoring of every customer’s system.