June 8, 2018
Austin Mayor Steve Adler accepted the 2018 Mayors' Climate Protection Award today for Austin Energy's Community Solar Program. The award is an initiative sponsored by The U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) and Walmart and was presented to Adler during the Mayors’ Climate Protection Awards luncheon at USCM’s 86th Annual Meeting in Boston, MA.
Celebrating its 12th anniversary, the Mayors' Climate Protection awards program recognizes mayors for their energy and climate protection efforts, selected by an independent panel of judges from a pool of mayoral applicants. Mayor Gary McCarthy of Schenectady, NY also accepted this award for their sustainability efforts.
"As cities are leading on climate change, Austin is focused on inclusive innovation around sustainability. We are realizing a more green future and the Austin Energy Community Solar initiative shows the world how everyone in your community can support and benefit from renewable energy," said Mayor Adler. "Austin is proud and honored to be cited for our leadership on this critical issue."
Austin Energy has a long history of conservation and sustainability efforts, dating back several decades with the utility's green power and energy efficiency programs. The utility currently meets 40 percent of its customers’ energy needs with renewable energy and plans to be at 65 percent renewable energy by 2027.
"We are honored to be recognized with this award," said Austin Energy General Manager Jackie Sargent. "This is a perfect example of city leaders, the utility and community all working together to drive value for our customers. Because we are a community owned electric utility and because Austinites show extraordinary commitment to climate protection, we are able to provide programs like community solar."
Lucia Athens, Chief Sustainability Officer for the City of Austin, recognized the importance of making sustainable options like solar accessible to everyone in the community.
"This program is a great reminder that one of the core tenets of sustainability is equity," said Athens. "While Austin is often listed as one of the best places to live, it has also been named the city with the greatest economic divide. Austin Energy’s Community Solar Program helps to ensure that the things that make Austin great are available to everyone, and that sustainability is not an elitist concept that embraces the environment but forgets equity."
Tom Cochran, CEO and Executive Director of The U.S. Conference of Mayors, noted the "creativity and imagination" in the Austin and Schenectady programs being honored.
"U.S. mayors are well into their second decade of climate leadership, showing others that there are effective and affordable responses to our climate challenges," Cochran said.
About Austin Energy Community Solar
Austin Energy has offered solar incentives to customers since 2004, and today more than 7,200 customers have solar panels on their rooftops. The utility's Community Solar Program launched more than a year ago with a 185-kilowatt rooftop solar array at the Palmer Events Center in Central Austin, which serves 23 customers. In March 2018, Austin Energy celebrated the grand opening of the La Loma Community Solar Farm, the largest community solar farm in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas and the first in Texas to offer low-income customers a discounted rate on community solar. The program allows residential customers to meet their electric needs with 100 percent locally generated solar energy at a fixed price for 15 years.
About Austin Energy
Austin Energy, the City of Austin's electric utility, serves more than 475,000 customer accounts and more than one million residents in Greater Austin. The utility's mission — to safely deliver clean, affordable, reliable energy and excellent customer service — has guided Austin Energy in powering the community and supporting the region’s growth since 1895. As a publicly owned utility, Austin Energy contributes more than $109 million annually to support important City services such as streetlights, parks, libraries and public safety. For more information about Austin Energy, visit austinenergy.com.