Fredericksburg area residents and small business owners are invited to a solar workshop to learn about the nuts and bolts of solar water heating and electricity generation.

There is no fee to attend the event which is scheduledSaturday, May 18, from 9 a.m. to noon at Hill Country University Center, 2818 East U.S. Hwy. 290 in Fredericksburg.The event is an initiative of the clean energy subcommittee of Fredericksburg SHINES, a nonprofit organization showcasing Fredericksburg as the center of sustainability in Texas.

Michael Hurst, green builder and president of the Fredericksburg SHINES board of directors, said this workshop is the place to find answers. “Essentially, this event will cover questions and issues surrounding solar installation such as costs, placement and viable financing,” he said. “We really encourage anyone who has ever thought about solar energy—but dismissed it as too costly or too technical—to attend this workshop and learn how this exciting new energy source is overcoming those early challenges and is really now in reach of regular people and small businesses looking for sustainable, more environmentally friendly ways to live and operate from day to day.”

Introductory presenter for the workshop will be John Watson, a Corpus Christi native now living in Fredericksburg, who will recap his personal, multi-year journey from solar interest to actual installation of his solar energy system and, more recently, a solar water heating unit. Watson’s presentation will include a brief segment on an easy, money-saving way for almost anyone to harness the sun’s power for their benefit.

Thomas Isaac, chief executive officer of Techsun Solar, a solar water heater manufacturer, distributor and installation company headquartered in Martindale, TX, will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of various residential and commercial solar thermal system designs.

Isaac, whose company has installed systems for NASA, the U.S. military, HUD and many commercial and residential entities, including the solar water heating system at the Watson home in Fredericksburg, will review common installation or design errors and the effects of hard water.

He will also discuss a solar water heating system’s financial return, its significant environmental impact and reasons it has not yet been more readily adopted in Texas.

John LaFleur, sales consultant with Native, Inc., of Austin, a green builder and a licensed installer of solar, rainwater collection and geothermal air-conditioning and heating systems, also will make a presentation at the workshop. The company installed Watson’s solar electric system in Fredericksburg.

David Peterson, P.E., director of engineering and operations at Central Texas Electric Co-op (CTEC), will be on hand to answer questions about CTEC members installing solar systems and connecting to the CTEC distribution system. CTEC does have a policyfor what is called “distributed generation” that addresses how a member may generate power while continuing to connect to the distribution system.

After the workshop concludes, local residents with solar installations will be available to talk about their personal experiences with solar technology.

Light refreshments will be available. While there is no charge to attend the workshop, reservations are encouraged for planning purposes. For more information or to reserve seats, call Watson at 830-997-3543, ext. 27, or email him at

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