Austin is “clearly a leader in this domain”

By Asher Price, American-Statesman Staff

The University of Texas and the city of Austin are fostering a “vibrant, innovative ecosystem” for energy matters, U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz said Thursday in a visit to the state.

As part of a trip to promote President Barack Obama’s energy strategy, Moniz chatted with local clean energy companies and leaders, including clean technology startups from the Austin Technology Incubator and the cleantech cluster development group CleanTX.  He also toured the Pike Powers Laboratory and Center for Commercialization, a testing bed and commercialization facility near the UT campus.

Austin is “clearly a leader in this domain,” he said. “Very impressive.”

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Pecan Street Inc. Chief Technology Officer Bert Haskell takes U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, left, on a tour at the Pike Powers Laboratory and Center for Commercialization. Ricardo B. Brazziell, Austin American-Statesman

In a speech at UT, he echoed the administration’s decision to pursue an “all-of-the-above” energy strategy, one that includes traditional and new-fangled sources of energy. At the same time, he said, the administration is attempting an “energy transformation” from a traditional, fossil-fuel based economy to a low-carbon one.

“There’s no ambiguity about the need and commitment in this administration to lower greenhouse gas emissions,” he said.

“We have a big job to do,” he concluded, “and the fact so many students are willing to put their capabilities to work on these problems is the best hope we have to move forward.”

UT graduate student Clare Magee said she was impressed with the remarks.

“The Obama administration is reputed for being pro-renewables, but he was really pragmatic about the role traditional fossil fuels play, as well as clean tech.

“So often energy becomes an ideological issue on the main stage,” she continued. “But he kept politics out of it.”

After the Austin visit, Moniz was due to visit San Antonio to participate in a town hall discussion of energy issues and job creation with Mayor Julian Castro.