News » The QueQue

Carbon rules â??greatest wealth opportunity' for this generation, says solar leader


Not only does he look very Elvis on occasion, but Jigar Shah is too nice to dwell too long about his being right as well.

Greg Harman�

[email protected] ââ?¬Â¨Ã¢â?¬Â¨

Solar costs are crashing, Obamabucks are hurriedly enhancing solar energy storage options, and it would seem Jigar Shaw has returned to San Antonio triumphant.��

San Antonians at 2009's Solar San Antonio luncheon sniffed at the upstart solar evangelist when he offered sun energy as a white-hot force ready to dominate the market. More than one CPS staffer we caught doing the eye-roll. By and large, folks here saw Shah, for all his success, as a bit ââ?¬” how would Express-News columnist Scott Stroud put it? ââ?¬” "wild-eyed."ââ?¬Â¨

�"I guess I wasn't as crazy as they thought I was," he says to me during our brief huddle at the back of the Pearl Brewery Stable at this year's Solar lunch. "What a difference a year made. � The confidence level that we're seeing in energy efficiency, smart grids, and storage technology have gone up tremendously."

��He's trying out, I later come to see, bits of speech on me the way a comedian might before a show (the way Emo Phillips broke my sister's heart many years ago in Oberlin, Ohio, I might add). "The real issue we have in Texas is if they want to lead," he continues. "Texas could be an energy state, no just an oil and gas state."

��A Shah fan interrupts our casual exchange to suggest that a renewable portfolio standard for non-wind renewable energy sources (proposed but failed last legislative session) is on the way for sure.

If lawmakers are tempted by second thoughts, they may want to seriously consider Shah's next claim (also repeated during his address at the lunch honoring Solar San Antonio founder Bill Sinkin `right` for not only surviving this city all these 97 years but for being the "old dog that taught us new tricks," as Mayor Julian Castro put it, by embracing solar a decade ago).

Shah said the renewable-energy revolution represents the "greatest wealth opportunity of our generation." ��He says he's moved past simply terming the technological changes in foment as "opportunities" (a "blue-collar term") and has started dropping "wealth" whenever he can. Non-polluting technologies are about more than turning blue collars green, it seems; they are today's hot stock option. Or they will be.

��He tells me CPS Energy, in all their many changes these past 12 months, is "on track." It may have helped we publicly drove out some old blood and demanded renewable considerations be given top priority. And yet, he says, now it is time for the City's utilities to get together and work with City and higher-ed visionaries on creating the workforce that will ensure our transformation into a clean-tech Mecca is one that not only lifts all boats but positions the city as a leader in the country. "That plan is not in place yet," he says.��

Scanning the room, I can see faces here today beginning those conversations. I know we're not far off.


Forgive my sloppy low-end camera work, but try to enjoy this 10-minute collection of some of Shah's key points:



Solar Stars

Finally, congratulations to all those honored today with SSA's Solar Hero/Heroine Award. From left to right: Steve Ihnot, juwi solar, Inc.; Bob Sohn, executive director of the Pearl Institute; Cris Eugster, chief sustainability officer, CPS; Liza Meyer, SA Office of Environmental Policy; and Shah.

Support Local Journalism.
Join the San Antonio Current Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the San Antonio Press Club for as little as $5 a month.