Solar Fest 2015 Shines at Roosevelt Park

CPS Energy sponsored a wildly successful Solar Fest 2015 last Saturday at Roosevelt Park, giving away 250 free trees until they were all gone.

Bill Sinkin
Bill Sinkin, founder of Solar San Antonio, which recently merged with Build San Antonio Green –Photo via Wikipedia

Spearheaded by the reformed Build San Antonio Green (BSAG), which merged earlier this year with Solar San Antonio, the festival would have made local solar visionary and Solar San Antonio founder, the late Bill Sinkin, proud.

BSAG reports thousands of folks turned out for the recently rebooted event, which celebrates its 15th year.

Art vendors, live music, food trucks, bouncy mats and bungee runs for the kids combined with educational booths staffed by energy and water efficiency experts. Steady streams of people visited the CPS Energy Village to learn about the Smart Grid Initiative, Casa Verde weatherization program, Cool Energy Smart AC kit, and receive onsite customer service. New Energy Economy partner companies showed off solar panels and trackers, giving the outdoor gathering the feel of a community sustainability fair.

“We’re thrilled with the community response,” said BSAG executive director Anita Ledbetter.

Under a tin-roofed pavilion, local experts took turns staging 20-minute talks on a variety of topics.

Hydroponics farmer Mitchell Hagney of Local Sprout talked about sustainable urban agriculture. Susan Snow of Missions National Park informed attendees about the responsibilities and opportunities of our city becoming a world heritage destination. And Ana Morales with New Energy Economy partner Sun Action Trackers shared her company’s special corporate culture.

Morales explained how Sun Action Trackers’ commitment to recycling and employee creativity has spawned an internal art initiative. The solar tracking manufacturer encourages employees to repurpose unsalvageable parts and metal waste by promoting an art competition among employees.

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“This is something that’s really important to our company culture,” said Morales, showing photos of the pieces.

As energy efficiency experts educated visitors on how to save energy in their homes, New Energy Economy partners SolarHost and Roofless Solar collected names and provided information on CPS Energy’s recently launched SimplySolar programs.

“We had a fantastic day here,” said Jason Pittman, vice president of PowerFin Partners, CPS Energy’s partner on the innovative SolarHost program.

SolarHost allows those with appropriate rooftops to host solar photovoltaic systems, share the benefits of the solar system and earn credits on their energy bill. Pittman added that the response to SolarHost has been overwhelming. More than 4,000 customers have applied for the 850 slots in the pilot program, but that shouldn’t dissuade folks from continuing to apply.

“We’re looking for the best rooftops in CPS Energy’s service territory, so keep submitting your applications,” he said.

Representatives of Clean Energy Collective (CEC), CPS Energy’s partner on a roofless solar program that will offer customers ownership of panels in a community solar farm, also had an enthusiastic community response.

“Roofless solar is the perfect complement to the rooftop program because only about 20 percent of customers are qualified for rooftop, but anyone with a CPS Energy bill can go roofless,” said Phoebe Judge of CEC. “We’ve seen an incredible amount of interest so far, which is exciting for everyone.”

The roofless program is now available for reservations and expected to produce power by spring of 2016.

Related stories:

PowerFin brings SolarHost, first-of-its-kind program, to San Antonio

Clean Energy Collective brings roofless solar to San Antonio

CPS Energy solidifies position as solar leader

Another reason to plant a tree: Green Shade Tree Rebates

Monika Maeckle

Monika is a contributor to our newsroom.

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