Solar Austin

November 10: Larry Weis of Austin Energy

Solar Austin is pleased to have Austin Energy’s new General Manager LARRY WEIS as its “Solar Happy Hour” speaker on November 10.

To celebrate the occasion, and accommodate our growing, happy solar crowd, we will be at a new venue in downtown Austin: Shoal Creek Saloon at 9th & Lamar. Austin’s home of the New Orleans Saints ( has plenty of food, drink and parking. If we can just solarize the giant “Saints” helmet on their roof, this could become solar happy hour nirvana.

Please plan on joining us.

Mike Sloan
Solar Austin, Head Speaker-Arranger Guy

Talk: The Larry Weis Vision for Solar Power in Austin
Time: Wednesday, November 10 • 6:00pm – 8:00pm
Location: Shoal Creek Saloon. 909 N. Lamar, Austin

Larry Weis

Larry Weis

There’s a new sheriff in town. Larry Weis is his name, electricity is his game.

The last utility Larry ran in California (Turlock Irrigation District) may have started its solar programs well after Austin committed to becoming a Solar Power leader, but by 2009, his old utility was outperforming Austin, with cumulative solar installations per customer (19 W/customer) that were 3X that of Austin Energy (6 W/customer).

As Larry takes over the helm of all things Austin Energy — ranging from immediate budget challenges, a renewable energy intensive generation plan, Austin’s first rate case in more than 16 years, and overhauling the utility’s business model — he will also be steering a course toward much greater levels of solar power. Come hear of his vision to achieve Austin’s aspirations for Solar Power and nurturing a vibrant local solar industry.

Can Larry Weis do for Solar in Austin what Drew Brees did for Football in New Orleans? We have the perfect event and place for you to find out…

Larry Weis, the former General Manager and CEO of the Turlock Irrigation District (TID) in Turlock California, began his tenure on September 27, 2010 as General Manager of Austin Energy. Weis brings more than 29 years experience in the electric and water utility industries and was chosen following a national search and an extensive selection process.

Austin City Manager Marc Ott, in naming Weis, said the utility executive has the experience, the record and the management style needed to continue the success enjoyed by the City’s progressive electric utility. “We need a creative thinker that clearly values what it means to be the best managed public utility in the country,” Ott said. “Someone with a track record of embracing challenges, pressing for innovation, ensuring full transparency and welcoming involvement from the community. We heard all of those things about Larry in visiting with community leaders in Turlock and his record reflects the full range of those qualities.”

Weis began his electric utility career in 1981 in Washington state, where he oversaw a huge buildup of a nationally prominent energy efficiency and conservation program, worked with commercial and industrial customers, and strengthened system reliability with additional transmission and stepped up maintenance and planning. At TID, Weis led the planning, financing and construction of natural gas power plants and the acquisition of a 137 MW wind project to meet renewable energy targets.

Weis was born in Seattle, has degrees in Music and Engineering, and spent his early career working for Boeing on the 747 and 767 programs.

October 6: Mark Strama at Solar Austin’s Happy Hour

Date: October 6, 2010
Location: Opal Divine’s Penn Field
k100, 3601 S Congress Ave
Austin, Texas 78704

Time: 6pm-8pm

Renewable Energy and the 2011 Texas Legislature:
Good, Bad or Ugly?

Mark StramaCome hear Rep. Strama’s remarks on the state of play for the upcoming 82nd Legislative session and what opportunities exist to make good on Texas’ vast solar and clean energy potential, despite the realities of an exceedingly ugly State budget. During the 81st session in 2009, Mark was at the epicenter of efforts to pass meaningful solar legislation, serving as the Chairman of the Technology, Economic Development, and Workforce Committee and as a member of the Energy Resources Committee. This will be a great opportunity to visit with one of the leaders shaping Texas energy policy and network on how solar can begin playing a significant role.

Mark’s background:

Mark Strama began his political career working on Ann Richards’ successful campaign for governor in 1990 and went on to become chief of staff for State Senator Rodney Ellis.

In 1995, he left government to become director of programs at Rock the Vote, where he helped register more than a million new voters. Soon after, he founded the first company to register voters online, which helped empower over 700,000 Americans to vote in the 2000 election cycle.

In 2004, Mark campaigned for state representative in an attempt to return to politics and won by just a few hundred votes. Two years later he was re-elected with an overwhelming majority. His campaigns have earned national attention because of his effectiveness in registering voters and mobilizing young activists.

Also save the date:  our November 10 Happy Hour will feature Austin Energy’s new leader, Larry Weis.

August 25th Happy Hour: Mike Bates of Incenergy

For our next Solar Austin Happy Hour on Wednesday, August 25th, we’re very pleased to present our featured speaker, Mike Bates, Managing Partner of Incenergy, an Austin-based company focused on the growing Smart Grid market.

Incenergy is a value added reseller, systems integrator and software company specializing in aggregating residential and commercial electrical loads under a utility-branded demand management platform. They incentivize energy efficiency and enable advanced demand management through a unique, open hardware platform.

We will announce the topic of Mike’s presentation soon, however in the meantime here’s a brief summary of Mike’s impressive experience:

Mike is an accomplished Senior Sales and Marketing Executive with more than eight years of experience in the Smart Grid industry. His expertise centers on sales process management in the Community Owned (Co-op and Municipal) Utilities market, from lead generation to contract execution.

Before coming to Incenergy, Mike served as Regional Vice President of Sales at GridPoint, a leading smart grid company. Prior to joining GridPoint, Mike was Executive Vice President and co-founder of PowerGrid Communications Inc., a turnkey provider of smart grid services to the community-owned utility market. In 2000, he founded Summa Associates, LLC, where he led the creation of more than 25 wireless high-speed networks throughout Texas.


Solar Austin August Happy Hour

Featured speaker: Mike Bates, Managing Partner of Incenergy

DATE: Wednesday, August 25, 2010
TIME: 6:00 – 8:00pm
LOCATION: Opal Divine’s – Penn Field location – 3601 S. Congress, Ste K

In addition to the August Solar Austin Happy Hour, there are several other great events coming up this month:

August 12th – CleanTX Foundation Event: Natural Gas and Clean Energy: Friends or Foes?
Natural gas is an abundant, domestic energy resource. It is also an important part of the Texas economy. Natural gas is much less carbon-intensive and less polluting than coal. And, natural gas plays a key enabling role for renewable power by providing backup generation when the wind doesn’t blow or the sun doesn’t shine. Natural gas can be used directly in the homes, for transportation, and can be made from renewable sources such as livestock waste. But natural gas is also a competitor for renewable power in Texas and its production in complicated shale formations has potential water and air quality impacts. This panel will discuss the various roles, tradeoffs, benefits and risks associated with a ramped-up penetration of natural gas into the national fuel mix.
More details here:

August 23rd – Texas Green Network’s August Monthly Meeting will be at Tech Ranch Austin, the Austin-based technology incubator.
More information can be found here:

August 26th – The next Austin SEEN Event is planned for Thursday August 26th at the Long Center. Come out and meet and discuss opportunities for starting and growing business in Central Texas in the Solar Energy Industry.
Details can be found here:

As always, we welcome any suggestions for future speakers or any other ideas or comments. Please do remember to return Opal Divine’s generosity by enjoying their fine food and drinks and tipping your wait staff generously.

We look forward to seeing you August 25th!

July 21 Happy Hour: Richard Amato

For our next Solar Austin Happy Hour on Wednesday, July 21st, we’re very pleased to present our featured speaker, Richard Amato, President and CEO of Venti Energy, Inc.

We will announce the topic shortly, however in the meantime here’s a snapshot of Richard’s impressive experience:

Bringing together his background and expertise in clean energy and business development, Amato was sought by Danish investors to establish Venti Energy in 2006 as a niche player in the growing U.S. renewable development market. As founding President and CEO, Amato aspires to develop the untapped opportunity and potential in clean energy to help minimize the exploitation of depleting natural resources and energy supply worldwide.

Prior to his current role, Amato founded the Clean Energy Incubator (CEI) at The University of Texas at Austin in 2001 and at the national level, Amato was involved with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in the creation of the Clean Energy Alliance (CEA), a group of leading U.S. business incubators dedicated to providing business and financial services tailored to the needs of the clean energy community. The Alliance consists of 17 incubators throughout the country concerned with the development of clean energy venture technologies. Amato currently serves on the Leadership Team for the CEA.


Solar Austin July Happy Hour

Featured speaker: Richard Amato, President and CEO of Venti Energy, Inc.

DATE: Wednesday, July 21, 2010
TIME: 6:00 – 8:00pm
LOCATION: Opal Divine’s – Penn Field location – 3601 S. Congress, Ste K

In addition to the July Solar Austin Happy Hour, don’t miss another great event coming up this month:

July 14th – CleanTX Foundation presents a panel discussion on “Using Geothermal Energy to Power Texas” – Listen to industry leaders from around the country talk about the opportunities and challenges of geothermal development in Texas, including:

• The market/resource potential for geothermal energy
• Enabling/pending/needed legislation
• Financing projects
• Oil and gas development practices which can translate into geothermal development
• Enabling technologies such as Organic Rankine Cycle engines
• Companies working on geothermal energy projects in Texas
• Trade groups and associations to join

More details can be found here:

As always, we welcome any suggestions for future speakers or any other ideas or comments. Please do remember to return Opal Divine’s generosity by enjoying their fine food and drinks and tipping your wait staff generously.

We look forward to seeing you July 21st!