(Austin – Dec. 3, 2008) – Representatives from the City of Austin, Austin Energy, The University of Texas’ Austin Technology Incubator, the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce and Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) unveiled details of the Pecan Street Project, a bold effort to design a new, clean energy infrastructure, business model and proving ground for tomorrow’s energy technology. Corporate partnerships with Dell, GE Energy, IBM, Intel, Oracle, Cisco Systems, Microsoft, Freescale Semiconductor and GridPoint were also announced.
“Austin has the opportunity to play the same role in the evolution of America’s energy economy that it did with the semiconductor boom in the ‘80s,” said Austin Mayor Pro Tem Brewster McCracken. “The Pecan Street Project will bring together the best talent from Texas and across the country to address the infrastructure, technology and policy challenges that stand between us and a cleaner, reliable, affordable and modernized electricity system.”
Austin is not the only city embarking on a “utility redesign” or “smart grid” project. But because Texas has its own grid, modifications to the power system do not require federal approval. And because the City Council is Austin Energy’s board of directors, Austin is in a unique position to implement technology changes more quickly and offer its electric grid as a real-world proving ground for tomorrow’s clean energy technology.
“Several other cities are testing clean-generation or efficiency products,” McCracken said. “We’ll do that. But we’ll also test the software, storage and business models we need to make it all fit together.”
The project scope includes designing a system that:
- delivers plentiful, reliable and affordable energy to Austin’s growing citizenry;
- is responsible with Texas’ most precious natural resources, like air and water;
- can eliminate the need for more polluting power plants;
- produces a power plant’s worth of energy, generated within the city limits via renewable resources, and that;
- Austin intends to share with cities across America and around the world. This project will help cities map out the creation of the infrastructure it will take to power their economies and preserve the environment.
The City approached EDF this fall, and preliminary planning meetings occurred in October. Staff from EDF’s Austin, New York, California and Washington, D.C. offices are involved in the project.
“Through their work with McDonald’s, FedEx and DuPont, EDF has demonstrated a unique expertise in bringing together industry leaders to address our most pressing challenges,” McCracken said. “Together with our experts at Austin Energy, staff from the Austin Technology Incubator, the Chamber and these excellent corporate partners, EDF will spearhead the nine-month project to develop the technical specifications and sustainable business model for a truly modernized utility.”
Corporate partners will assist the project team by providing staff resources and strategic guidance within their areas of expertise. Partners will also help the project team identify technologies that can be pilot-tested on the local electrical grid once the initial phase of the project is completed.
In addition to the corporate partnerships announced today, the Pecan Street Project will be tapping the expertise of SEMATECH, the world’s leading advanced technology consortium, to help structure the clean energy R&D consortium.
Quotes from Partners
“Austin Energy is doing something quite unique: It is trying to reinvent the electric system and to share the lessons it learns with the world. Austin Energy is opening its grid to new clean, cutting-edge resources that will lead to a cleaner Austin and create a model to tackle global climate change. And Austin Energy is so confident in its vision that it is soliciting input from some of the smartest minds from the nation’s leading corporations on issues ranging from technology to business planning. As a citizen of Austin, I am proud that our city is leading again on the environment and the new economy.” – Jim Marston, Texas regional offices director and senior attorney, Environmental Defense Fund
“This is an exciting project that underscores the vision set forth by Mayor Wynn and the Austin City Council of exceptional community-wide efficiency in energy use combined with clean, sustainable generation that takes advantage of advancements in distributed energy.” – Roger Duncan, general manager, Austin Energy
“The Austin Chamber is excited to join the City of Austin, Austin Energy, the Austin Technology Incubator, and Environmental Defense Fund in announcing the launch of the Pecan Street Project. The Pecan Street Project will be focused on developing the electric grid of the future right here in Austin, allowing us to use local clean technology resources and collaborate with key industry partners.” – Paul Bury, chair-elect, Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce, CEO and Founder of Bury+Partners, Inc.
“We see the Pecan Street Project as a major catalyst for the creation of the next generation of clean tech companies. It has the potential to be a start-up magnet for the entire Central Texas area.” – Isaac Barchas, director, Austin Technology Incubator
“GE Energy welcomes the opportunity to be engaged in this innovative and important project. We value our ongoing relationship with Austin Energy and look forward to continuing to deploy our smart grid technologies, further enhancing the intelligence of their network. A smarter grid will optimize the integration of renewable energy sources, drive increased energy efficiencies and empower consumers with information to better manage their energy usage and costs.” – Bob Gilligan, VP T&D, GE Energy
“Today the energy grid is all about distribution; it’s a one-way ride. A smart grid will act more like the Internet - exchanging information and energy among nodes for collaboration across the network resulting in a more efficient, sustainable grid. Cisco is applying its expertise in networks and collaboration to this space, and by working with an innovative city like Austin, together we have the opportunity to determine what our energy future looks like.” – Carolyn Purcell, Director, Internet Business Solutions Group for Cisco Systems, Inc.
“Dell knows that increasing the availability and use of renewable energy is integral to a low-carbon economy. Partnerships like the Pecan Street Project are key to these goals and we look forward to playing a role in helping this effort reach them.” – Jeff Krech, Global Facilities Sustainability Program Manager, Dell, Inc.
“Technology and innovation play increasingly important roles in driving solutions to address the world’s environmental challenges. Public-private partnerships like this one are important to not only increase awareness about society’s need to balance energy and environment, but can also demonstrate workable ways toward sustainability.” – Jon C. Arnold, managing director, Worldwide Power & Utilities, Microsoft
“Freescale is excited to be a member of the Pecan Street Project and we are looking forward to working with the other partners and founders to help enable the utility of the future, including renewable energy sources, a smart grid and energy efficiency.” – Vivek Mohindra, senior vice president of strategy and business transformation, Freescale
“Building a sustainable energy future relies on our ability as a nation to radically modernize the energy systems of our major cities. Being one of the fastest growing and most progressive U.S. cities, Austin is the right place to embark on this project and we look forward to collaborating as part of this consortium.” – Guido Bartels, general manager, IBM’s Global Energy & Utilities Industry and chairman of the GridWise Alliance, a Smart Grid advocacy group
“Today’s aging energy infrastructure demands improvements. As such, utilities are eagerly seeking best practices and successful projects on which to model Smart Grids that will meet their communities’ energy needs. The results of the Pecan Street Project will help guide utilities around the world in choosing and using Smart Grid software and technology to slash energy waste and improve the environmental profile of energy use.” – Quentin Grady, senior vice president and general manager, Oracle Utilities
“Intel is happy to provide the core technology that makes the Pecan Street Project possible. The next generation of smart grids, smart buildings, clean energy sources, plug-in vehicles and utility data centers are being enabled and networked by Intel microprocessors and communications technology, and we are excited to participate in this innovative project.” – Lorie Wigle, general manager of Eco-Technology, Intel Corp.
“An intelligent grid is the essential infrastructure that will enable clean energy and electric vehicles to be adopted on the scale necessary to meet our energy and environmental challenges. The Pecan Street Project is a significant step for Austin and also represents a major advancement for the Smart Grid nationwide.” – Peter L. Corsell, CEO, GridPoint
“The Pecan Street Project aims to bring companies and organizations together to develop and test real-world applications of emerging technologies, and build a sustainable clean-energy infrastructure for the 21st century. These objectives certainly resonate with us. As a leading consortium for emerging technology R&D, SEMATECH understands the power of a consortium to accelerate technology innovation and commercialization, and we’re proud to support and bring our experience to bear on this groundbreaking initiative.” – Mike Polcari, president and CEO, SEMATECH
“Twenty years ago, a fundamental part of Austin’s strategy for SEMATECH was training our workforce. We came together as a community not just to improve technology, but also to improve people’s skills and opportunities. Now, Austin is coming together again to lead in the creation of a clean energy economy. As a trustee for Austin Community College and the president of the Urban League, I am excited to be part of this mission to solve clean energy’s greatest technical challenges and prepare Austinites for opportunities in green collar jobs.” – Jeffrey Richard, president and CEO, Austin Area Urban League