Solar cell and wind generation are great for the environment, but they are limited in their reach. They are intermittent, and cannot be dispatched on demand when they are needed.
On April 17, 2018, a presentation (now recorded) was made to the City of Austin’s Resource Management Commission on the need for dispatchable renewable generation as well as solar cells and wind.
View it at this link.
One of my ideas is to convert GreenChoice from funding wind to funding Concentrating Solar Power. Wind is now close to parity with conventional fuel charges in Austin, and converting GC to solar could allow Austin to start buying dispatchable renewables at little or no cost to the typical Austin consumer.
Clashing Over How to Boost Clean Energy
Jack Craver, Reporter, Energy Industry, Energy Central Posted on April 9, 2018
Paul Robbins has become something of an institution in Austin as a full-time, volunteer watchdog of the city’s municipally-owned utility, Austin Energy. Recently I wrote about how he forced AE to make changes to its discount program for low-income customers. This week I’d like to focus on another fight he has waged, often putting him at odds with fellow environmentalists.
Robbins, who calls himself an “environmental and consumer advocate,” got engaged in politics in the 1970’s as part of the anti-nuclear movement. But he scoffs at the demands made of Austin Energy by many of the city’s environmentalists, saying that their campaign for 100% renewable energy in the near future is unrealistic.
…So what Robbins suggest? He wants AE to start seriously considering ways to ramp up dispatchable renewable power.
How one man got Austin Energy to reform its discounts to low-income customers
Jack Craver, Reporter, Energy Industry, Energy Central March 21, 2018
Paul Robbins has been a thorn in the side of Austin Energy for decades. The longtime environmentalist and consumer advocate comes to City Council meetings regularly to bemoan bad decisions by the municipally-owned utility.
One of his most prominent crusades has been against wasted money in the utility’s Consumer Assistance Program, which is supposed to offer discounts to low-income ratepayers. Robbins, however, has long contended that many of the program’s beneficiaries aren’t low-income at all. He has done this by highlighting expensive homes –– some exceeding $1 million –– that are enlisted in the program.
In presentations to City Council, Robbins displayed photos of the magnificent homes that some of the program beneficiaries live in.
This story is about misspending of public funds meant for energy efficiency. If environmentalists do not advocate spending this money wisely, the public will lose trust in us.
Council rejects appeal of gas conservation fees Wednesday, February 7, 2018 by Jo Clifton, The Austin Monitor
City Council on Thursday rejected an appeal from environmental and consumer activist Paul Robbins to overturn a staff decision to accept Texas Gas Service’s 2018 conservation adjustment clause rate. The conservation adjustment clause rate is the extra money consumers pay for the utility to fund its conservation programs, such as rebates for appliances and attic insulation.
…In addition to Troxclair, Council members Jimmy Flannigan and Ann Kitchen and Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo seemed interested in following up on the questions Robbins raised in his appeal.
Flannigan thanked Robbins. “You know, sometimes – I’m going to say this with love because I’ve been described this way too. Sometimes a passionate nutjob is what you need. And I’ve been that guy from time to time myself, and so thank you for sticking with it and hopefully we’ll have a more substantive conversation next year.”
Photo by Lisafern (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons.
Paul Robbins is an Austin-based environmental activist and consumer advocate. Though best known for his work on the Austin Environmental Directory (a sourcebook of green products, services, organizations, and issues in Central Texas), he has worked on a number of other projects as well. This Web site has started to compile them.