Last Thursday, our intern Alex testified before the Austin City Council in support of funding to support solar panels on four Austin schools. Here is her testimony:
Hi, my name is Alex Serna and I'm a Geography Student at Texas State and an intern with Environment Texas. I'm here today to voice support for this item.
Solar power is expanding rapidly. The United States now has over 53 gigawatts (GW) of solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity installed – enough to power 10.1 million homes and 26 times as much capacity as was installed at the end of 2010.
Solar power is helping Austin to curb emissions that contribute to global warming, become more resilient to severe weather, help our residents stabilize their energy bills, and improve public health through reduced air pollution.
America’s schools have played an important role in the clean energy revolution and stand to reap tremendous benefits from solar energy. As large buildings, they are significant sources of electricity demand and, with tens of thousands of rooftops suitable for solar panels, they have the potential to be major sources of clean energy as well. Many schools also incorporate the solar panels in to their science and technology curricula. Solar is helping schools save money on their electric bills and ensuring a brighter future for the next generation. And as public buildings, they serve as highly visible demonstrations for our neighborhoods of the potential for solar.
There are more than 5000 solar schools in the US, including 130 in Texas and at least 33 in Austin. The incentives you're considering today for four schools will support enough solar to power 139 homes and reduce pollution equivalent to taking 168 cars off the road.
You shouldn't stop with just there four schools. The city should set a bold goal to put solar on every school in the city. In 2013, Austin voters approved $10 million to put solar on schools as part of Prop 1. Most of that money hasn't been spent. That money combined with Austin Energy rebate money, would go a long way towards that goal of solar on every school.
Thank you and happy to answer any questions.