Energy and Environment Reporting for Texas


Meet the Pecan Street Research Institute, A Green Energy Incubator


The Pecan Street Research Institute is a collection of collection of energy-efficient, innovative homes in a smart grid research project located in Austin’s Mueller neighborhood.

That neighborhood, just northeast of downtown Austin, is home to hundreds of green-built homes, all tied into a smart grid, with many of them even outfitted with solar panel arrays and electric cars. It’s become a test ground for some of the most advanced home technologies in America. It’s a collaboration between the University of Texas, the City of Austin, Austin Energy and several companies.

“In order to really test, and have a real world kind of experiment with high density residential solar, they have offered additional incentives to the [Mueller homeowners] on top of the Austin energy rebate and the federal rebate, so the people in Mueller have an opportunity to get solar really cheaply,” says Charles Upshaw, a mechanical engineering graduate student at the University of Texas at Austin and member of the Webber Energy Group.

“Pecan Street and Mueller’s smart grid demonstration is really the only smart grid demonstration project that I’m aware of that has taken this consumer-centric, consumer-electronics approach to it,” Upshaw says. “Where instead of trying to sell it to the consumer through the utility as some sort of energy efficiency thing, they are trying to find a way to make smart grid more useful to the consumer, such that [the consumer] would demand it from their utility or they would even go out and buy it from Best Buy and install it in their house themselves.”

You can read more over at the Pecan Street Research Institute.

Latest Posts

Report: Solar Can Cut Summer Peak Power Demand in Half in Texas

Rooftop solar panels can result in significant power savings for homes in Texas during the summer, according to new research from the Pecan Street Research Institute. And by doing so, it could help lessen the strain on the Texas electric grid. The Pecan Street Research Institute is a collection of energy-efficient, innovative homes (many with solar […]

Why Electric Cars May Not End Up Stressing the Texas Grid

The rise of electric cars in Texas has brought up a concerning scenario: What if too many cars charge their batteries at the wrong time, potentially overloading the Texas grid? If, say, thousands of cars all plug in during a hot Texas summer weekday afternoon, when power supplies are already tight, would it possibly be […]

Austin’s Green Building Incubator: A Look at the Pecan Street Research Institute

Watch In Austin, Charged up About Smart Power on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour. If you’re a Texan interested in green building, smart grids and solar panels, there’s probably no better place to see them in action than the Pecan Street Research Institute in Austin’s Mueller neighborhood. That neighborhood, just northeast of downtown Austin, is […]

About StateImpact

StateImpact seeks to inform and engage local communities with broadcast and online news focused on how state government decisions affect your lives.
Learn More »