Farewell & Thank You from Kathleen

CleanTX Community,

After a very busy and productive 1.5 years as Executive Director, I am stepping down from my role at CleanTX. This was a planned transition and I have been working with the Board throughout the summer to ensure that the organization will continue to flourish after my departure. Thank you to everyone for attending events and supporting the community as members and sponsors. I also appreciate the support of my Board and fantastic team–I could not have done this without them.

Highlights from 2015-2016:

We have achieved a lot over the past 18 months – over 54 events and contributions to thought leadership led by CleanTX or featuring CleanTX as a speaker, to be precise! To recap:

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My first event as Executive Director was Clean Cloud in May of 2015. After a keynote provided by Steve Hammond of NREL, Shalini Ramanathan, VP of Origination for RES Americas, moderated an all-star panel including: David Rocha (CLEAResult); Ty Schmitt (Dell); Ed Smeloff (SunPower); Todd Kiehn (Active Power); and Christiaan Best (Green Revolution Cooling).

Economic Impact Press ConferenceLater that same month, we also launched our Economic Impact Report. The analysis demonstrated that the cleantech industry contributes $2.5B and 20,000 jobs to the regional economy. Mayor Adler and other leaders in Austin’s cleantech cluster joined us in celebrating our success at a press conference at City Hall.

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Our Solar Business Model Innovation event drew over 150 members of the CleanTX community from Austin, Houston, and San Antonio. Clay Butler of the Butler Firm moderated a fantastic panel of experts, including: Kate Sherwood of SolarCity, Colin Meehan of First Solar, Mark Begert of Meridian Solar, and Brian McCurdy of SunEdison. The panel touched on key issues within the solar industry today, from new financing models for solar projects to intermittency issues on the grid. The discussion centered around business models and what steps each company was taking to hedge the risk inherent in the industry.

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In November, we re-launched CleanTX.org, featuring an updated Industry Inventory. Over 250 companies in the region are profiled and sorted by sub-sector!

Climate Change EventLeading up to the COP21 Paris Climate talks, we hosted Climate Change: The Ultimate Market Driver. Speakers from representatives of the Environmental Defense Fund, Dell, and the XPRIZE Foundation all offered unique perspectives on the distinctive business opportunity that the transition to a low-carbon future represents.

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Cleantech Across the Rio Grande marked our first Signature Event of 2016.  The event was produced in partnership with UT Energy Week and attracted over 120 attendees to Blanton Museum of Art on UT’s campus. Carlos Gonzalez Gutierrez, Consul General for Mexico in Austin, introduced the event and highlighted the importance of cross-border collaboration. Michael E. Webber, Ph.D. (The University of Texas at Austin) moderated a panel of distinguished professionals from both sides of the border, including: José María Lujambio I. (Cacheaux, Cavazos & Newton, L.L.P), Norma de la Salud Alvarez Girard (CRE) Reed Armstrong (Iberdrola Renewables, Inc.) and Tracy Granda (Flex).

In addition to our Signature Events, we also hosted a series of VIP Happy Hours for members, sponsors and Board Members. Clean Energy Beers continued to be a casual way to see old friends and make new ones. Now in its 10th year, the CleanTX brand is stronger than ever. The newsletter mailing list added over 200 new subscribers and continues to grow, the number of “likes” on our Facebook Page doubled, and our daily, unique user brand reach increased from about 400 to 4,000 over the past 18 months.

‘Moonlight’ isn’t a a form of renewable energy.

I became a member of the CleanTX community six years ago. I attended Clean Energy Beers, Power Lunches, and every lecture Dr. Michael Webber gave in the community to learn about clean energy. I met many of you though those platforms long before I was the Executive Director of this organization. CleanTX has played an important role in my professional evolution and I was honored and excited to be able to give back over the past 1.5 years. As many of you know, I work full-time at the Austin Technology Incubator and have been ‘moonlighting’ with CleanTX as a second job. Although I love both roles, it simply isn’t sustainable for me to continue to work 60-80 hour weeks to cover both workloads.

What’s next?

I will still be in Austin and will remain active in the cleantech community we have built.

NREL Energy ExecsOver the summer, I attended trainings at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory as part of the NREL Energy Execs program, spoke at the Total Energy Summer School in France, and participated in the Aspen Institute’s Clean Energy Innovation Forum. I’m excited to leverage my network and experience to continue to support clean energy companies at the Austin Technology Incubator.

In addition to my work coordinating a statewide network of clean energy incubators, I also plan to develop additional expertise and assets around mission-related and program-related investments (MRI’s and PRIs) for early stage clean energy companies, and launch a Transportation/Mobility incubator vertical at ATI in partnership with Austin Energy, UT-CTR, the City of Austin, and the Rocky Mountain Institute.

 

Our Board will be in touch with updates about what’s next for CleanTX. We have some exciting promotions and events in the works for Fall 2016, so stay tuned for updates. If you have any questions, please reach out to our Board Chair, Jose Beceiro at jbeceiro@txstate.edu.

Thank you again for a fantastic 1.5 years! I will see you at future events and can be reached via email at kbaireuther@ati.utexas.edu.

Cheers,

Kathleen Baireuther