Solar Austin’s mission is to accelerate the transition to clean, renewable energy in Central Texas and to expand access to the benefits of solar to everyone to mitigate climate change, create a healthy community and support a strong local economy.

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Vote Early, Vote Local, Vote Solar

Early voting is in full swing and Texans are showing up at the polls to exercise their precious right to vote.  Austinites have a petty long ballot to vote on and we know it can be difficult to get educated on all of the races.  Local leadership is critical for advancing the use of solar energy and addressing climate change though.  Climate change and energy issues aren’t often front and center in campaigns, so we worked with our partners at Earth Day ATX, Shades of Green and 350 Austin to develop a climate and energy questionnaire for the Austin mayoral and city council candidates. 

We encourage you to read the candidates responses before deciding who most deserves your vote for Austin mayor and your city council member (if your district is up for an election this year).  If you don’t have time to read the questionnaire responses though, we made a shortcut for you.  We scored all responses based on two measures:

  1. Support: How much the candidate’s response demonstrates support for expanding the use of solar energy and phasing out the use of fossil fuels, and, more generally, support for action to slow climate change and respond to the impacts of climate change. (High, Low, Medium)
  2. Knowledge: How much the candidate’s response demonstrates knowledge of the problems and potential solutions. More specific, detailed responses generally score higher, as long as they are based on facts. (High, Low, Medium)

Candidates were scored based solely on their written responses to the questionnaire.  Responses to questions asked at the candidate forums Solar Austin co-hosted, and other information (from candidate websites, for example), was not factored in.

Solar Austin is not endorsing specific candidates, but we do encourage all Austin voters to keep support for clean energy – especially solar – in mind when voting. 

Don’t forget that city elections are non-partisan, so voting “straight ticket” won’t cast a vote in the mayoral or city council races.  Keep clicking through and vote all the way down the ballot.  Many important decisions are made at the local level.

Solar Austin Happy Hour: Michael Osborne on Electric Transportation

The recent dire report on climate change from the IPCC, which affirmed we only have until 2030 to solve the climate crisis, is a powerful reminder of how urgently we need to transform our society to no longer use fossil fuels. Improving transportation and reducing emissions from this sector have remained largely intractable in Austin—something of great concern since transportation produces a third of our city’s emissions.

The City of Austin has expanded its fleet of electric vehicles (EVs) in recent years, and Austin Energy recently received a grant to install more EV charging stations around the city. However, we still have a long way to go to transition our transportation sector away from fossil fuels.

We are excited to welcome Michael Osborne, former special assistant to the General Manager at Austin Energy and co-founder of Texas Renewable Energy Industries Alliance (TREIA), to discuss how transportation transformation is the next building block in the fight for our climate and a zero-carbon world. Michael will also introduce the Texas Electric Transportation Resources Alliance (TxETRA), which he co-founded, and talk about what the organization has accomplished so far.

When: Tuesday, October 23rd, 5:30-8:00 p.m.
Where: Scholz Garten, 1607 San Jacinto Blvd
RSVP now to join this interesting conversation.

We hope you will join us for this conversation with a standout clean energy industry thought-leader about what the trail-blazers in electric vehicle policy are doing.

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