Thomas Kim of Mission Solar Energy explains the benefit of solar power to San Antonio resident Mike Bursheim. Photo by Scott Ball.
Thomas Kim of Mission Solar Energy explains the benefit of solar power to San Antonio resident Mike Bursheim. Photo by Scott Ball.

In an effort to promote San Antonio’s strong solar footprint and shed light on the importance of sustainability, Build San Antonio Green (BSAG) will host Solar Fest on Saturday, Nov. 5 at Roosevelt Park.

Solar Fest has been in existence for 16 years and this year’s theme is resiliency.

“A big part of our prosperity as a city really depends on us working together and utilizing our local resources and network,” said BSAG Executive Director Anita Ledbetter. “It’s not just about solar power, but about community, working together, and highlighting all the fantastic local resources we have here in San Antonio.”

BSAG is a nonprofit that works with builders and developers to certify green homes in San Antonio. The organization strives to create awareness and interest for resource-efficient building methods, materials, and technologies among homeowners and builders.

Map of the 2016 Solar Fest activities in Roosevelt Park at 331 Roosevelt Ave.
Map of the 2016 Solar Fest activities in Roosevelt Park at 331 Roosevelt Ave. Credit: Courtesy / Build San Antonio Green

Solar Fest, which will take place from 11 a.m.-5 p.m., aims to mix fun with solar-powered education by including live music, kids activities, workshops, a variety of food trucks, yoga sessions, and more. In addition to programming focused on solar energy, the festival will highlight other eco-friendly practices such as urban gardening and rainwater harvesting.

“There’s a long list of awesome stuff happening on stage,” said BSAG Communications Director Jacob Eyer. “We’re also going to have Spurs Jesus out there doing yoga and he’s going to jump on a bicycle and head to (one of) the urban farm camp tours.”

A big part of promoting San Antonio as a resilient city, Eyer said, is focusing our energy at the local level, and figuring out “how we can do things ourselves to be involved in that resilient movement.” Adding local artists, artisans, and urban farming initiatives to the event’s programming is a way “to build that community,” Eyer added.

San Antonio is known for its strong solar footprint and is currently ranked No. 1 in Texas and No. 7 in the U.S. for solar capacity, according to Environment Texas. That placement is attributable to San Antonio increasing its megawatt (MW) capacity; In 2015, the city increased its capacity by 23%, from 88 MW to 108 MW.

“Our goal is to be number one in Texas, but we want to continue to be a leader in the nation,” Ledbetter said. “We are lucky as a community, we (also) are the number one in wind energy in the nation, and by early next year we are going to have over 500 megawatts of solar.”

The reason why San Antonio has done very well during hard economic times, Ledbetter added, is that San Antonio has been focusing on keeping everything local, and those local connections have been a huge strength.

Although San Antonio’s solar ranking is encouraging, there’s still a long way to go in order for solar to come out at the forefront and compete with other forms of energy such as natural gas, nuclear, and coal. The high costs of installing solar panels is still an obstacle for many individuals.

In an effort to provide incentives for clean energy, CPS Energy is spearheading a number of initiatives to increase San Antonio’s solar footprint, including solar hosting and roofless solar programs.

Through the roofless solar program, customers can rent panels from a solar farm and consequently get a discount on their energy bills, depending on how much energy their panels produce. Other incentive programs also are working to get lower-income residents to participate in the solar industry in order to plan for the future of clean energy and build on the solar momentum.

But it is important to continue to invest in more initiatives for real progress in the future, and the event aims to build on that premise.

Here is a full schedule of events:

MUSIC:

11:30-12:30 p.m – DJ Gabe
1-1:45 p.m. – Tony Romero and The Spiders
2-2:45 p.m. –  16 Psyche
3-3:45 p.m. – Femina-X
4-4:45 p.m. – Saturn Skies

WORKSHOPS:

11 a.m. –  Yoga with Rio Fit and Spurs Jesus on the Lawn
12:15 p.m. –  Urban Farm Camp Ride
12:15 p.m. – How to Compost Using Worms (at Pavilion)
1 p.m. – Herb Garden From Pallets (at Pavilion)
1:30 p.m. – Off Grid Solar (at Renewable Republic Bus)
1:30 p.m. – Urban Farm Camp Ride
2 p.m. – Solar 101 (at Pavilion)
3 p.m. – Herb Garden From Pallets (at Pavilion)
3 p.m. – Climate Reality Presentation (at Roosevelt Park Clubhouse)
4 p.m. – Rainwater Harvesting (at Pavilion)

Parking for the event will be limited to street parking in and around Roosevelt Park, so organizers encourage alternative transportation options which also promote eco-friendliness in the spirit of the event.

“Street parking can get crazy, so we’re encouraging everyone to take a bike, bus, or walk along the River Walk up to the park,” Eyer said.

VIA Bus routes 43 and 34 stop directly at Roosevelt Park and San Antonio B-Cycle stations are also nearby. Click here for a map of B-Cycle stations and here for information on VIA bus routes.

Click here to learn more about Build San Antonio Green.

Rocío Guenther

Rocío Guenther worked as a bilingual reporter and editorial assistant for the Rivard Report from June 2016 to October 2017. She is originally from Guadalajara, Mexico and holds a bachelor's in English...