EDF Debuts Clean Energy Video and Raises a Glass to Austin and Pecan Street Inc.

Last night, EDF, CleanTX, Pecan Street Inc., and Google hosted one of the clean energy events of the season.

We brought everyone in the Austin clean energy community – from legislators to cleantech entrepreneurs to EDF members – together to celebrate the tremendous progress our great city has made as a clean energy leader over the years, serving as an incubator and hub for some of the most exciting and innovative companies in the clean tech sector. After all, it is the collective hard work and dedication of everyone that put Austin on the map as a global leader in the clean energy economy.

We also kicked off the evening with a screening of our new video that highlights what the smart grid is doing for American energy. Set in Austin’s Mueller neighborhood, one of the world’s largest green-built communities and Pecan Street Inc.’s testbed for energy innovation, this short film tells the dynamic story of a clean energy future from within the American home. It gives people who live in a connected community a chance to express what clean energy means to them personally, from independence and innovation to health and reliability. The heroes of the film are ordinary people from the community who are part of this quiet revolution.

The beginning

EDF’s goal is to help catalyze a clean energy revolution by showing people that the unimaginable is possible, that alternative energy is no longer an alternative.

Really, the story of Pecan Street is the story of America. It embodies the very same values and qualities that built this country in the first place. It’s a story about innovation, prosperity, and pioneering new paths. Working hard for a better and cleaner tomorrow.

EDF was invited to the Pecan Street effort early in its development, before it had any employees or research participants or a budget. EDF brought to the team many national technology companies, and together we helped shape what would eventually become the Pecan Street organization we now know and love.

We are very proud to have been involved with Pecan Street for so long, and we are committed to increasing our role so that even stronger environmental benefits can be researched, measured, and proven in this real-world research experiment.

The journey

I remember, some fifteen years ago, when EDF and our allies were at the Capitol pushing for the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard. Now, Texas is an international powerhouse for wind energy, employing more than 10,000 workers in the industry. On top of that, renewable energy is driving down the energy costs for people and businesses. That was nothing short of a milestone in Texas history, and it really set us on a path leading us to where we are today.

Though there were some bumps along the way. I recall TXU Energy trying to build 11 coal plants throughout Texas, which would have emitted more carbon than 21 states. EDF and many others kicked it into high gear, rallying nearly 50,000 Texans to fight back and eventually eliminating 8 of the 11 proposed plants.

What’s next?

Today, solar is booming across the state, and wind continues to excel beyond belief. There are clean energy innovations available today that seize every opportunity for energy and cost savings made possible by the wave of new technology that’s changing each stage of the energy system, from power plants to the power socket. And there are innovators and entrepreneurs, many in Texas, that are putting their names and money on the line to bring these new technologies to market.

They’re not futuristic, voodoo, pipedream ideas. They work today. They are available today. What is happening in the clean energy industry right now is the classic American entrepreneur story, and we think it needs to be celebrated and encouraged.

What Pecan Street is accomplishing here in Austin and across the country is a critical part of that innovation. We need more of it. EDF will be pushing for more, and we hope you’ll join us.

This post originally appeared on our Texas Clean Air Matters blog.

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  • About the author

    Vice President, Clean Energy
    Jim Marston is the founding director of the Texas office of Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), located in Austin, where he has served since its beginning in 1988. He is also a leader of the Pecan Street, Inc., a partnership that includes Austin Energy, the University of Texas, the Chamber of Commerce, and several large high/clean tech companies aimed at making fundamental changes in the nation's electricity grid.

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    Confluence of SJR, Old, and Middle rivers

    Advocating for healthier air and cleaner energy in Texas through public education and policy influence.

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