At today’s (September 11, 2012) City of Austin budget hearing, City Council unanimously agreed to boost solar rebates and incentives from a proposed budget of $4 million to $7.5 million in FY 2013.
The vote to increase solar funding came about after the local Solar Advisory Committee, Public Citizen, Sierra Club, and Solar Austin had all called on the city to increase the Austin Energy’s budget for solar programs. While those entities had been advocating for a $10 million budget, and Council Member Laura Morrison had initially indicated she would support such an increase, in the end Morrison and Councilmember Chris Riley proposed an increase of $3.5 million, still a significant and positive development for jobs and energy from solar.
Councilmembers were assured that the increase would not unduly impact rates, the Council’s affordability goals or lead to inefficiencies in the solar programs themselves. Indeed, the increase should mean more solar panels get installed on home and commercial rooftops, and more local jobs are created. With the new budget, local advocates estimate that some 10 MWs of additional solar could be installed in Austin next year. This means Austin is well on its way for reaching at least 200 MWs of solar by 2020, and it will also help move AUSTIN BEYOND COAL. For more information about Austin Energy’s solar programs, visit here.
Cyrus Reed, Acting Chapter Director, Lone Star Chapter, Sierra Club