Luncheons for May, 2012

The Politics and Future of Solar Energy in Texas

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

“Solar prices are falling 5 percent to 6 percent annually, and capacity is growing at a rate of 30 percent per year…. Expanding today’s 1 percent penetration at an annual growth rate of 30 percent puts us 18 years away from meeting 100 percent of our energy needs with solar.” Peter Diamandis, Abundance (2012)

“[Austin’s] 30 MW solar farm in Webberville, Texas began generating power on December 20, 2011 [and] is the biggest in the state, the largest solar project of any utility in the country and one of the largest in the country overall…. [It] is expected to generate 1.4 billion kWh over the first 25 years and prevent the release of 1.6 billion pounds of CO2 into the atmosphere.” Megan Treacy, EcoGeek (1.5.12)

But this is Texas, home of oil & gas and fast-tracked coal plants. What are the technological and economic futures of solar power in Texas? And what are the political implications of the possible changes ahead?

We have a great panel to speak to those issues — experts who have worked hard on these issues in Austin and who constantly monitor state and national changes.


Phillip Schmandt – Chair, City of Austin Electric Utility Commission; Former Chair, Mayor’s Task Force on Generation (which developed Austin Energy’s 2020 20% renewable energy plan); Former Chair, Mayor’s Task Force on Residential Energy Conservation; Partner, McGinnis Lochridge & Kilgore.

Jim Marston – Chair, Environmental Defense Fund National Energy Program; Founding Director, Texas Office of Environmental Defense Fund.

Brewster McCracken – Executive Director, Pecan Street, Inc.; Former Member, Austin City Council.

Chris Riley – Member, Austin City Council; Former Chair, Austin Planning Commission.

Spectacular Door Prizes:

1. David Dewhurst, Weak But Wealthy — Plan For Victory.

2. Ted Cruz, Hydrophobia — The New Politics.

3. Red Wassenich, Nothing Before Something

New Reservation Policy Alert: Please note our new policy on canceling reservations.  As a result of recent last-minute cancellations and no-shows, we will have to start charging for persons who make a reservation but do not attend.  The Forum still has to pay for those lunches, and at times we’ve had to absorb over $150 in costs for non-attendees who made reservations.  We now offer the option to pay online in advance for your lunch.  If you cancel at least 24 hours before the meeting, there will be no charge.  We apologize for any inconvenience and we appreciate your cooperation.

Cost: Lunch is $15.00 for members, $20.00 for non-members

Parking: 816 Congress Avenue/IBC Bank parking garage. Enter the parking garage on 9th Street, between Colorado and Congress. Bring your ticket to the receptionist on the 7th floor and you will be given a coupon to use to exit the garage at no charge.

Reservation required: To reserve your seat, email or or call Chuck Herring or Judy Erben at 320-0665. Please tell us if you intend to bring a non-member guest and if you have any special dietary concerns. PLEASE MAKE RESERVATIONS BY 5:00 P.M. ON MONDAY, May 21.

About the Forum: The Forum meets monthly for lunch to hear Democratic speakers. Membership is $120/yr. Non-members may attend, but members have priority and receive discount prices for lunches.