Participants of the Pecan Street Project last month released a report of recommendations for transforming electricity delivery into a customer-focused clean energy system. The report stems from a year-long collaboration that included more than 200 volunteers from the city of Austin, Austin Energy, Environmental Defense Fund, The University of Texas, The Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce and more than a dozen local and national technology and energy companies.
The group also recently unveiled an introductory video that introduces many of the team members that have led the effort and explains what this unique project is trying to accomplish.
“The Pecan Street Project was unique from the outset,” said former Austin Energy general manager Roger Duncan, board president of Pecan Street Project, Inc. “We set ambitious goals, and then asked our team of volunteer experts to help us chart a course toward them. This report represents the best thinking of technology company innovators, environmental leaders, people with deep experience in the utility industry and Austin citizens who gave their time to make a difference.”
The report is divided into two sections:
- a detailed explanation of the rationale for the project and the process the group employed during 2009.
- a list of 39 recommendations related to Austin Energy, water management, public policy, economic development and job training.
“In just over a year, this effort has moved from a big idea to a firm list of recommendations, some of which are already being deployed,” said Pecan Street Project, Inc. executive director Brewster McCracken. “Austin has a remarkable opportunity to spur the next wave of American innovation. This report illustrates that we have a lot of work ahead of us, but it also shows that Austin has unique advantages that separate us from most other smart grid projects across the country.”
McCracken was named executive director of Pecan Street Project, Inc., a non-profit organization formed in August 2009 as a result of the effort’s early progress. This new non-profit organization has already begun executing one of the report’s early recommendations – a smart grid demonstration project at Austin’s Mueller community. The organization applied for and received $10.4 million from the Department of Energy in November 2009 to launch the project.
In addition to several “Guiding Principles” outlined in the report that set this effort apart from other smart grid projects, the Pecan Street Project chose a nationally recognized environmental organization, Environmental Defense Fund, to spearhead the year-long process.
“Smart grid doesn’t always mean green grid,” said Pecan Street Project, Inc. board member and Environmental Defense Fund Energy Program director Jim Marston. “These recommendations will help ensure that environmental benefits achieved here will be intentional – not incidental – consequences of a new energy system.”
Also unique is the level of support and cooperation from city officials, the University of Texas and members of the business and economic development community.
“The University has a wealth of energy expertise in its engineering, architecture and business schools,” said Pecan Street Project, Inc. board member and University of Texas engineering professor Dr. Tom Edgar. “Our students, faculty, and staff are very excited about working on the energy roadmap outlined in the report.”