Pecan Street Project Releases Recommendations for Launching Clean Energy Economy and Bringing Transformative Change to Electricity

Collaboration includes University of Texas, Austin Energy, Environmental Defense Fund, major technology companies and business leaders

March 24, 2010
Contact: 

(Austin) Participants of the Pecan Street Project today 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 report is available for download at www.pecanstreetproject.org. 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. Watch the video online here.

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:
(1) a detailed explanation of the rationale for the project and the process the group employed during 2009, and
(2) 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 efforts early progress. This new non-profit organization has already begun executing one of the reports early recommendations a smart grid demonstration project at Austins 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."

"This project could spark the next generation of Austin jobs the way our great semiconductor industry did in the 1980s," said Pecan Street Project, Inc. board member and Austin City Council member Randi Shade. "This is a broad-based, cooperative effort that could pay economic dividends for decades, and we must seize the momentum that was created in the last year by so many talented experts.

This is one of the most innovative energy projects in the country, said Pecan Street Project, Inc. board member Jose Beceiro of the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce, and we anticipate it will attract new cleantech talent and companies to Austins growing clean energy economy.

About the Pecan Street Project, Inc.
Pecan Street Project, Inc. is a non-profit corporation created in August 2009. It is applying for 501(c)(3) status. Board members of the organization are:
- Roger Duncan, Former General Manager, Austin Energy (Board President)
- Dr. Tom Edgar, George T. and Gladys H. Abell Chair in Engineering, University of Texas (Board Secretary);
- Jose Beceiro, Director of Clean Energy Economic Development, Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce (Board Treasurer),
- Isaac Barchas, Director, Austin Technology Incubator at the University of Texas
- Jim Marston, Director of Texas Regional Office, Director of Energy Program, Environmental Defense Fund
- Randi Shade, Austin City Council Member

For more information, visit www.pecanstreetproject.org.

About the Smart Grid Demonstration Project at Mueller
The Pecan Street Project, Inc. has recently begun implementing a smart grid demonstration project at Austins Mueller community that will integrate with Austin Energys next generation smart grid platform to create, operate, and evaluate an open platform Energy Internet. Pecan Street Project, Inc. was awarded $10.4 million in Department of Energy stimulus funding in November 2009 to execute the demonstration. Residential and commercial participation in the project will be voluntary. The Mueller community a public-private joint venture between the City of Austin and Catellus Development Group, a ProLogis company is located at the site of Austins former airport.

In addition to Pecan Street Project Inc., demonstration project team members include the University of Texas, Austin Energy, Environmental Defense Fund, the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce and the City of Austin. In addition, the demonstration project has a Technology Review and Advisory Committee with representatives from ERCOT, Bluebonnet Electric Coop, CPS Energy San Antonio and Pedernales Electric Coop.

The project will collect data and analyze the results against control groups and distribution feeder systems in other locations in the Austin Energy service area to quantify how the integration of these technologies impacts electricity usage and bills, the utilitys finances, environmental outcomes and overall system performance.