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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Solar Austin Happy Hour: Community Solar at PEC

The Pedernales Electric Cooperative (PEC) is going big with community solar. By the end of 2018, the co-op expects to have 15 MW online at five sites throughout its service territory. These local solar installations will be used to provide power to participating co-op members (customers) at a set rate. This is great news for customers who don’t have access to on-site solar—whether it’s because they can’t afford it, don’t own their own homes, or don’t have roof or are on land that isn’t suited for solar. And since participating co-op members will reduce their electric bills compared to the regular PEC rates, it’s no wonder that over 1,000 members signed up in the first day that the program opened for subscriptions in December. If you’re a PEC member, you can sign up here.

PEC is investing in low cost solar to reduce more expensive power purchases from the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA), which relies heavily on the coal-fired Fayette power plant. Once again, solar is benefiting the environment and reducing costs.

Solar Austin is excited to announce that Jim Spaulding, Director of Project Development Energy Services at PEC, will discuss the co-op’s new community solar installations at our February happy hour.

Tuesday, February 27th, 5:30 – 8:00 p.m.
Scholz Garten, 1607 San Jacinto Blvd
RSVP here.

At PEC, Jim Spaulding is responsible for developing and implementing new value-driven energy products and services that will advance and improve the cooperative’s performance in meeting its energy demands and developing strategic goals. He is an experienced professional in the utility, energy solutions, and water markets, as well as wastewater facility enhancement, with a proven track record in team building, specialized sales recruiting, and driving growth.

We hope you will join us Tuesday, February 27th for this exciting discussion about PEC’s community solar initiative!

Solar Austin Happy Hour: Innovation in Solar Technology

These are exciting times in the energy world.  Utility-scale solar is cheaper than new conventional power plants—and sometimes even cheaper than operating existing coal and gas plants. Solar and wind energy continue to expand and become even more economic. There’s lots of buzz about energy storage and some utilities are starting to invest in it.  But what innovations are taking place in research laboratories, and what technology may soon leave these research labs and head to commercial use?

Several Central Texas institutions are part of the Center for Next Generation Photovoltaics—where industry and thought leaders are answering these questions. Solar Austin is excited to kick off 2018, a year certain to be filled with even more innovation in renewable energy, with a happy hour talk by Dr. Taylor Harvey from the Center and TAMU-Central Texas on innovation in solar technology. Dr. Harvey will share his outlook on the future of solar and discuss research into developing printed solar cells on paper and plastic substrates. He will also share some of his experiences running a printed solar startup based here in Austin.

Tuesday, January 23rd, 5:30 – 8:00 p.m.
Scholz Garten, 1607 San Jacinto Blvd
RSVP here.

Dr. Harvey is the Chancellor’s Assistant Professor of Research at Texas A&M University—Central Texas. His primary area of research is solar energy with a focus on new solar materials (such as solar paints) and solar microsystems. He is the co-author of nine peer-reviewed articles and two patents. Before starting his current position, Dr. Harvey co-founded and led Lucelo Technologies, a printed solar start-up. Dr. Harvey received his PhD from the University of Texas at Austin in 2014 after spending four years as a reservoir engineer in the traditional energy industry.

We hope you will join us Tuesday, January 23rd for this fascinating discussion!

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!