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Yearly Archives: 2014

Flatonia Rotary Club Hosts Solar Energy Discussion

2014-04-17 Flatonia, TX Live Oak Tree - Photo by Kaiba White

The biggest live oak tree I’ve every seen lives in on Doug Mach’s property in Flatonia, TX.

On April 17th, the Flatonia, TX Rotary Club gathered to learn about solar energy.  I’m not sure, but this was likely the first solar event ever held in this small central Texas town.  The focus of the presentation I gave was the solarize model, but I also offered plenty of basic information about solar.

I was invited to present to the group by Doug Mach, who turns out to be a relative by marriage, but I wasn’t sure how the rest of the group would react.  Would people think I was a crazy environmentalist?  Would they think I was trying to destroy their charming little town?

I was very pleasantly surprised.  The group of about 20 listened attentively and asked good questions.  At least one attendee was already thinking about getting solar panels installed at his home.

The City of Flatonia operates its own electric utility to serve residents who live within city limits.  Flatonia currently has no solar installations, so even if only one resident there decides to go solar this year, it will be historic.

The Flatonia Rotary Club also includes residents from outside city limits and they get their electricity from the Fayette Electric Cooperative, which serves a much larger area and does have a few customers with solar installations.

If you live in the Flatonia area and want to learn more about solar, please contact me at

Gillespie County Residents Eager to Benefit From Solar

When Public Citizen and Fredericksburg SHINES first started working together about a year ago, solar energy wasn’t being publicly discussed in Fredericksburg or surrounding Gillespie County.  That’s changing though and just this past weekend, the groups hosted another solar workshop at the Hill Country University Center in Fredericksburg, which attracted about 40 engaged and enthusiastic attendees.

The workshop offered basic information about solar and information on financing solar installations.  Attendees learned about the personal, community level and global benefits of using solar energy, and were provided with the basic information about how solar panels work, as well as how financing can be used to make going solar possible for more people.  Solar is already cheaper than retail electric rates, and therefore saves customers money over time, but not every family has the cash on hand to purchase a system outright.  That’s where financing for solar systems comes in and can make solar affordable for a many more people.

The workshop featured three very knowledgeable speakers from the Austin area:

    • Cathy Redson, President and Co-founder of SolPower People and Vice President of Sales at Longhorn Solar (see presentation)
    • Jason Ballard, President and Founder of Treehouse
    • Lloyd Lee, President and CEO of Native

    While this event wasn’t specifically about the Solarize Gillespie County effort, it did contribute to one of the core missions of any good solarize effort by providing a educational opportunity to the public. If there’s some aspect of solar that you’d like more information on, please let us know and we’ll try to get a forum or workshop set up in your area.

Welcome to Solarize Texas

Public Citizen’s Texas office and the Texas Solar Energy Society (TXSES) have partnered to spread the Solarize group purchasing model throughout Texas.  We are looking for people in communities of all sizes to work with to kick off Solarize programs, especially in Central Texas.  Even if there are just a handful of people looking to go solar in a community, group purchasing can get you a discount.  And launching a Solarize program is a great way to let others know about the benefits of solar.  With more solar potential than any other state, Texas shouldn’t be lagging behind cloudier states like New Jersey on solar installations.  Solar costs are lower than ever before and the 30% federal solar investment tax credit is available until the end of 2016.  Let’s take advantage of it and make Texas the solar leader we should be!