Tag Archive: Austin solar budget

Austin Solar Victories

Many of you probably remember our concern when Austin Energy proposed slashing the solar budget by 42% for fiscal year 2014 – which we’re now in. But public outcry and our meetings with Austin City Council members made a difference. The budget was fully restored and we can expect to have another great year for solar in Austin.  That was back in September.

Sun in fistJust yesterday, Austin City Council passed a resolution that expands the city’s commitment to development local solar.  Of our existing solar goal of 200 megawatts (MW) by 2020, half will now have to be locally sited and half of that local solar will have to be distributed systems that are owned or leased by customers.

That’s great news for local jobs, because there’s no way to outsource installation of small, local solar systems.  Someone has to be here to do a site inspection, file the paperwork with Austin Energy and actually install the system on someone’s room or in their yard.

City Council also instructed the City Manager to consider adopting the 400 MW by 2020 solar goal put forth by the Austin Local Solar Advisory Committee (LSAC) into the Generation Plan update next year.

We have Council Members Chris Riley, Laura Morrison and Bill Spelman to thank for leading this effort, but the resolution was adopted unanimously, and I know that others on the Council are eager to see solar thrive in Austin.  Send the City Council a thank you note.

With the help of the many people in Austin who are concerned about climate change, air pollution, water use, creating good local jobs, and keeping electric rates affordable, we’re going to make sure the 400 MW solar goal is included in the Generation Plan in 2014.

In the meantime, we can turn our focus to ensuring that solar owners continue to be credited a fair value for the energy they put out on the grid for the rest of us to use and that more attractive solar financing options are made available.  Better financing, options for solar leasing and a community solar program are all essential for expanding access to solar for lower and middle-income families and all of us who rent.

Massive Cuts Proposed for Austin Energy Solar Budget

It’s an important time for solar in Austin, so we will try to keep you updated as things progress.

Here’s the latest:

Instead of embracing the expanded solar goals recommended by the Austin Local Solar Advisory Committee (LSAC), Austin Energy has proposed slashing the solar rebate budget by 42% for the upcoming budget for fiscal year 2014. 

The solar rebate budget supports both residential and commercial solar installations and has become increasingly popular.  The program was projected to run out of money earlier this year, prompting Austin Energy to reduce the amount of the residential rebate from $2 per installed watt to $1.50 per installed watt.

Although solar costs have declined rapidly and are projected to continue that trend, rebates are still needed in the short term to help our local solar economy reach maturity.  Rebates will likely be phased out between now and 2020, but now is not the time for dramatic cuts to a popular and successful program.

There are going to be several opportunities coming up to voice your support for solar:

  • Monday, August 19th at 6pm in the Shudde Fath Conference Room at Austin Energy (721 Barton Springs Road): Electric Utility Commission meeting will include discussion of recommendations for the Austin Energy budget.  Public input is welcomed at the beginning of the meeting and for each agenda item.
  • Wednesday, August 21st at 3pm in the Boards and Commissions Room at Austin City Hall (301 West 2nd St): Emerging Technology and Telecommunications Committee meeting will include discussion of costs and benefits of solar compared to other energy sources.  Public input is welcomed.
  • (probably) Thursday, August 29th at 4pm in Council Chambers at Austin City Hall (301 West 2nd St): Public hearing on the proposed city budget.  The purpose of this hearing will be to gather public input. We will update the day and time on this post if it changes.

In the meantime, if you haven’t already sent an email to the Mayor and City Council in support of expanding solar goals and funding, you can do so using this Public Citizen “action page.”

Spread the word and help our city be more sustainable.