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March 6, 2009

“Steps Toward a Sustainable Austin Energy” symposium, March 10, 2009

The Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs and the University of Texas School of Law will present the “Steps Toward a Sustainable Austin Energy” symposium on March 10, 2009, in the Eidman Courtroom.

The symposium is the culmination of a year-long research project by twenty-two University of Texas graduate and undergraduate students to determine whether and how Austin can reach carbon neutrality by 2020. Under the supervision of David J. Eaton, Bess Harris Jones Centennial Professor of Natural Resource Policy Studies at the LBJ School of Public Affairs, and with guidance from Austin Energy and Solar Austin, these students have developed a set of recommendations for how Austin Energy should provide energy to Central Texas.

“The LBJ School’s work, culminating in this symposium, dovetails perfectly with what we’ve been doing for months through our public participation process—seeking input on what path Austin Energy should chart to meet future demand and challenges,” Austin Energy General Manager Roger Duncan said. “Feedback from our customers is vital to Austin Energy’s decision-making process. It is my hope that Austin residents attend this important meeting and voice their opinions.”

The symposium begins with a scenario training session at 9 a.m. Audience members are encouraged to test their ideas for how Austin Energy ought to provide energy to Central Texas by 2020 using a program created by the graduate students. The program offers an interactive and visual description of the benefits and drawbacks of various energy technologies.

At 1:15 p.m., attendees are welcome to engage in four panel discussions with leading experts from various sectors of the energy industry. Panel discussions include: “Austin Energy’s Coal, Gas and Nuclear Future,” “Austin Energy’s Solar, Wind, and Geothermal Future,” “Regulatory Issues for Austin Energy, 2020,” and “Customer and Community Preferences for Austin Energy, 2020.”

The symposium will conclude with a public forum beginning at 6:30 p.m. where attendees are invited to learn about and discuss how Austin Energy can become a sustainable utility company by 2020. Prior to this facilitated discussion, graduate students involved in the research project will present their findings regarding Austin’s future energy generation.

“After months of comprehensive research and deliberation, these students have identified options to transform Austin Energy into the world’s first carbon-neutral electric utility,” said Solar Austin cofounder Chip Wolfe. “As a cosponsor of this course, Solar Austin is profoundly appreciative of their efforts.”

In addition to fourteen LBJ School students, eight other students who participated in the research project come from the following schools: the Cockrell School of Engineering, the McCombs School of Business, the UT School of Architecture, and the University of Texas School of Information.

All events are free and open to the public. Parking is available at a modest cost in the San Jacinto Parking Garage adjacent to the Law School.

Susan Binford, (512) 232-4006,