Want to See EDF at SXSW Eco 2015? Cast Your Vote!

Vote-croppedEvery year, SXSW Eco – one of the most high-profile environmental conferences – selects its programming based on votes from the public. This means anyone, regardless of whether you submitted a panel, can cast a vote.

This year, seven experts from Environmental Defense Fund are featured on dynamic panels that cover everything from solar equity and new utility business models to innovative building efficiency programs and the threat of methane pollution. To make sure EDF and energy-related programming is represented at the conference in Austin, TX this October, we are asking our readers to please vote for your favorite EDF panels and presentations.

How to vote

To vote, you will need to login or create a PanelPicker account here: http://panelpicker.sxsw.com. The voting is simple, just give a session a “Thumbs Up” or “Thumbs Down,” leave some comments, and move on. This whole process will take you all of one minute.

Voting ends this Friday, May 22nd, so please help us spread the word by sharing this post with your friends via email and social media (you can also retweet us from @EDFEnergyEX)!

EDF panel and presentation submissions

The Revolution Will Be Solarized

The solar revolution is here, but will it truly empower all people? The U.S. now has enough installed solar to power more than four million homes, and has added more solar capacity in the past two years than in the previous 30 years combined. But who is really benefiting from this boom? What about renters, low-income communities, and communities of color, who disproportionately bare the pollution burden from today’s electricity system? Recent misinformation campaigns from the utility and fossil fuel industries would have us believe solar energy is hurting low-income communities and communities of color. This panel will explore tough question about equity, affordability, and access to solar power – and highlight real-world examples of policy solutions and pilot programs attempting to bring solar power to the people.


  • Jorge Madrid, Environmental Defense Fund
  • Brentin Mock, The Atlantic
  • Anya Schoolman, Community Power Network
  • Jaqui Patterson, NAACP
  • Michael Kadish, GRID Alternatives

Back to the Future: Power Grid Edition

Illinois is proving electric utilities don’t need time travel to move its power grid light-years into the future. Since 2011, Illinois’ largest utilities, Commonwealth Edison and Ameren Illinois, have started rolling out some five million smart meters and making more than $2 billion of smart grid investments. EDF and Citizen’s Utility Board are working with ComEd and Ameren to ensure customers not only get meters, but also a cheaper and cleaner grid, with ground-breaking initiatives, such as community solar farms, easy access to energy data, a suite of alternative electricity pricing plans, microgrid development, voltage optimization, and greenhouse gas reductions. Discover for yourself how Illinois’ model of using information and data from meters and other equipment creates new business models and benefits to residents, small businesses, manufacturers, and commercial real estate. Illinois is setting a standard for a smarter, cleaner, and healthier energy.


  • Dick Munson, Environmental Defense Fund
  • Andrew Barbeau, Accelerate Group
  • David Kolata, Citizens Utility Board

Innovating to Fight the Other Big Climate Threat

Natural gas use across the United States has jumped– but leaks of methane, a potent greenhouse gas and the main component in natural gas, can undermine gas’ potential climate benefits over coal. To help the oil and gas industry faster detect, and ultimately reduce, methane emissions, Environmental Defense Fund and a diverse set of partners drew on innovation competitions to develop the Methane Detectors Challenge, an initiative to commercialize next-generation detection sensor systems equipped with big data capabilities. Attendees will learn how the Challenge has marshaled the expertise and buying power of seven leading oil and gas companies and the talent of a diverse international set of technology development teams. The goal is to not only help find and fix leaks with the speed we expect in the digital age – improving air quality, and keeping companies’ supply in the pipeline and out of the atmosphere – but also to catalyze a new market for detection equipment.


  • Ben Ratner, Environmental Defense Fund
  • Dirk Richter, Quanta3
  • Roy Hartstein, Southwestern Energy
  • Jason Gu, SenSevere

Water Management 2.0 – Policy, Tech and Education

The 21st century has ushered an era where city planners in New York, Sacramento and Singapore must consider the implications of rising sea levels, extended droughts and 100-year storms in their long-term development. With California in the throes of a fierce drought and the pain of Australia’s ‘Big Dry’ still lingering in recent memory, Texas and the City of Austin are taking aggressive measures to prepare for extended periods of drought. This panel will explore the political, technical and educational investments Texas has and must take to prevent similar consequences. Veteran environmental columnist Todd Woody will return to SXSW as moderator and lead the conversation among panelists Mark Jordan from Austin Water, Kate Zerrener from the Environmental Defense Fund, Pete Brostrum from California’s Department of Water Resources and Joe Ball from Itron Technologies.


  • Kate Zerrener, Environmental Defense Fund
  • Mark Jordan, Austin Water
  • Peter Brostrom, California Department of Water Resources
  • Joe Ball, Itron

Innovative Building Operators Help Chicago

In June 2012, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced that the City of Chicago would join the Obama Administration’s Better Buildings Challenge, and called on local business owners to help reduce energy use by 20 percent across nearly 24 million square feet of public and private building space by 2017. JLL, owner of 77 West Wacker Street, a Class A building, and Urban Innovations, operator of 11 Chicago Class B buildings, stepped up to the Mayor’s call, and together reduced their energy usage by nearly 3 million kilowatt hours. And, both saved considerable money in the process. Environmental Defense Fund helped guide those results by embedding EDF Climate Corps fellows in each organization to help identify, plan and implement those energy reduction programs. In this session, attendees will hear directly from JLL and Urban Innovations about their journeys to innovate and lead the field in energy management, and how EDF Climate Corps is scaling their solutions across the U.S.


  • Victoria Mills, Environmental Defense Fund
  • Myrna Coronado-Brookover, JLL
  • Alrieda Green, Urban Innovations

The New Utility Business Model

The business model for electric utilities is rapidly changing. Historically, utilities earned revenues based on how much money they spent. The more money they spent on power plants and other infrastructure, the more money they earned for their shareholders. This business model is now changing in several states, where utilities will earn revenues by meeting performance objectives. These objectives will be tied to basic goals such as providing reliable service and customer satisfaction, but will also include clean energy objectives – such as adding more wind and solar to the grid and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This session will review the latest developments in this area.


Solar Energy is On the Rise

Solar energy is making great strides in the U.S. There are two basic forms – large scale solar power plants covering several acres, and the solar panels you can install on your roof. This session will discuss the current state of affairs with both forms of solar – how does the cost compare with other forms of energy? What are the benefits? Why are customers turning to solar energy? What parts of the country have been most successful in adopting solar energy? What changes do we need to add more solar energy?



Image source: Flickr, Alan Cleaver

This entry was posted in California, Clean Energy, Climate, Demand Response, EDF Climate Corps, Energy Efficiency, Energy-Water Nexus, General, Grid Modernization, Illinois, Methane, Natural Gas, Renewable Energy, Texas, Utility Business Models. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.