By Cecilia Gonzales
It was standing room only for a panel moderated by Energy Institute Deputy Director Dr. Michael Webber at the sixth annual Texas Tribune Festival, held last month on the UT Austin campus.
Webber’s panel, “What We’ve Learned about Renewables,” featured Paula Gold-Williams, President and CEO of CPS Energy, a variety of environment and energy experts consisting of ERCOT Chief Operations Officer Cheryl Mele, Greg Wortham, founder and Executive Director of the Texas Wind Energy Clearinghouse, and Maura Yates, Vice President of Sustainability Solutions for MP2 Energy.
Webber says the panel was different from past conversations at the Texas Tribune Festival.
“It was a full house. And, we had three women on the panel, which was great because this was not common for the energy panels in the past.”
The group exchanged views on the make-up and evolution of public and private utilities, with particular focus on how the addition of more renewable sources of energy are affecting the natural environment. Panelists also discussed efforts to de-carbonize the electric grid and the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan.
Former UT Austin Energy Journalism Fellow Russell Gold also moderated a panel at the Festival. “Energy Prices and the Economy” was comprised of Tom Currah, Chief Revenue Estimator for the Texas Comptrollerof Public Accounts, , State Representatives Drew Darby and Chris Paddie, Texas Railroad Commissioner Ryan Sitton, and Mine Yücel , Senior Vice President and Director of Research for the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
The topic: the role of oil and gas in the Texas economy.
“Texas is struggling with the drop in revenue from oil and gas production, which is having an adverse impact on the economy,” said Gold. “Continuing to diversify the state’s energy economy to include wind and solar is a smart idea.”
Cecilia Gonzales is a second-year Journalism student and intern at the Energy Institute.