Reinventing Power: Prioritizing Equity for Austin’s Renewable Future


Guest Post – from the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club 

Last month, at the United States Conference of Mayors in Boston, Austin Mayor Steve Adler took home a first place Climate Protection Award for Austin Energy’s Community Solar Program. In his tweet announcing the recognition, Mayor Adler stated: “Renewable energy should be available and affordable to everyone! #ATX continues to be a global leader in sustainability.”

As Austin develops, investments in renewables for low-income communities is an opportunity to act on equity.

We must not forget the persistent work of community organizers in the narrative surrounding Austin’s promise for a clean energy future, like Pete Rivera and Kenneth Thompson (pictured below), pushing policy to bring affordable and accessible renewable energy to the Lone Star State capitol, and the unfinished work to truly prioritize equity as the city grows and develops.

Both Pete and Kenneth have seen firsthand how bad energy choices can create economic disparity and damage vulnerable communities already burdened by high utility bills and environmental racism. All too often, the people who lack access to clean energy are the same people living with disproportionate fossil fuel pollution in their neighborhoods. As the clean energy industry grows, Pete and Kenneth are fighting to bring community solar to low-income, communities of color, which are historically left out of the energy debate.

Pete Rivera
Austin’s new community solar farm, the La Loma Community Farm, is in Pete Rivera’s backyard in East Austin, where he and his family have lived for generations. As president of the Springdale-Airport Neighborhood Association (SANA), Pete worked to ensure that the solar project offered energy at rates that would benefit the local community


East Austin native Kenneth D. Thompson Sr., host of Austin Community Radio (KAZI 88.7), started the Solar and Economics working group within the City of Austin’s African American Resource Advisory Commission to start conversations and inspire action around prioritizing affordable renewable energy for Austin’s low-income communities of color

These themes – renewable energy, community organizing, development, equity, affordability – are all interconnected, and we’ll be addressing their intersections at this Saturday’s screening of Sierra Club’s newest film “Reinventing Power: America’s Renewable Energy Boom” in Austin, which is featured in the story. The film takes us across the country to hear directly from the people making our clean energy future achievable, and more of the conversation about Austin will be discussed during a panel discussion following the film, specifically delving into what community organizers and policymakers are doing for accessibility and affordability in the renewable field.

  • WHAT: Reinventing Power film screening + Q&A panel on renewable energy, accessibility, and affordability
    WHERE: Alamo Drafthouse Mueller, 1911 Aldrich St #120, Austin, TX 78723, USA
  • WHEN: Saturday, July 21, 3pm – 5:30 pm

Purchase your tickets now for this important film screening and panel to learn more about the nation’s clean energy revolution and continue the conversation about accessibility and affordability in sunny Austin, Texas!


Please note – editorials and sponsored posts are written by guest writers to inform and educate the community on a variety of different viewpoints, as well as to share information about local eco-friendly businesses and organizations. However, they do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Austin EcoNetwork.

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