Solar Austin

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

Solar Manufacturing in Texas Happy Hour Presentation

Thank you to everyone who came out to see Mission Solar’s Director of Operations, Sam Martens, presenton solar manufacturing in Texas at our August Happy Hour. We packed the room in Scholz Beer Garten for this engaging presentation on the ins and outs of why Mission Solar moved to San Antonio in 2014 and the challenges and opportunities of assembling modules in Texas.

As many of you request, here are the presentation slides. Please feel free to contact us at for any questions, comments, or ideas.

Solar Austin Happy Hour: Solar Manufacturing in Texas

This month, Sam Martens, Director of Commercial Operations at Mission Solar will share the story of how the company ended up in San Antonio and will discuss related industry dynamics.

As one of only a few solar manufacturers in Central Texas, Mission Solar began with providing modules to San Antonio’s municipal electric utility, CPS Energy. Mr. Martens will walk us through Mission’s expansion into commercial and residential markets, future growth possibilities, and how the solar manufacturing industry continues to evolve, including industry challenges and strengths.

WHEN: Tuesday, August 28, 5:30-8:00 p.m.
WHERE: Scholz Garten, 1607 San Jacinto Blvd
RSVP now.​​

Sam Martens has been with Mission Solar since 2013. He serves as Mission Solar Energy’s Commercial Operation Director. He previously worked as an equity analyst at Macquarie Group, the Royal Bank of Scotland and most recently CIMB Band, Malaysia, responsible for the Asian semiconductor and solar sectors. Earlier in his career, he worked in information technology (IT) policy research at a Korean government think tank. He has his bachelor’s in arts degree in international studies, focusing on economics and international studies, from Korea University. He is fluent in English and Korean.

We hope you will join us on the fourth Tuesday of August for this interesting discussion on solar manufacturing in Central Texas.

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!