Energy / Sustainability
Will Wynn is a sought-after speaker on the national and international stage. He consults with and advises a number of governments, utilities and private entities on issues related to renewable energy, energy efficiency and sustainability.
Will Wynn served as two-term mayor of Austin, Texas from 2003-2009. He also served on the Board of Directors of Austin Energy for nine years, the last six as Chairman. Austin Energy – the ninth largest public power utility in the U.S. – generates over 4,000 megawatts of electricity, has 1,600 employees, serves 400,000 individually ’smart-metered’ accounts and has annual revenue of $1.5 billion. Its fuel mix is 28% natural gas, 24% nuclear, 22% coal and 26% renewables (up from 0% in 2000 when Wynn began serving on the Board). Its current and approved generation plan has renewables growing to 35% by 2020.
Late in his tenure, Wynn oversaw the execution of two key purchase power agreements. A 20-year, $2.3 billion PPA created a 100-megawatt (wood waste) biomass plant (to be completed June, 2012) and a 25-year, $250 million PPA created a 327-acre, 30-megawatt solar field (to open December, 2011). Earlier Wynn approved the execution of five wind power PPAs totaling 429 megawatts currently operating. Despite Austin’s remarkable growth in population over the past decade, all of the additional demand for electricity has been met by conservation, efficiencies and renewables. At over 900 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) in subscriptions, its GreenChoice program has been named the country’s most successful utility-sponsored green energy program for seven consecutive years by the U.S. Department of Energy.
Under Wynn’s leadership Austin has dramatically expanded both the requirements and market penetration of its greenbuilding program; nationally promoted plug-in hybrid electric vehicles; created the country’s most aggressive solar rebate program; pushed for substantial upgrades to the International Energy Conservation Code; dramatically increased its renewable energy portfolio; mandated energy audits prior to existing home sales; announced its smart-grid initiative; and created a city-wide climate protection program of which Newsweek wrote “…the City of Austin has taken the reins. Its climate protection plan, unveiled last February by Mayor Will Wynn, is seen by environmentalists as the country’s most aggressive municipal initiative aimed at reducing greenhouse gases.”
Austin Energy’s construction of its 52,000-ton capacity Downtown District Cooling System has helped spur an unprecedented amount of downtown high-rise residential development recently. There is now over 10 million square feet of new buildings tied into the ice thermal storage system that utilizes off-peak (disproportionately west Texas wind) power to cool. The new system has existing capacity for 20 million square feet of cooling.
Mr. Wynn rose to a leadership position within the U.S. Conference of Mayors. As Chair of their Energy Committee from 2004-2009, he helped drive national debate on federal energy policy and climate protection. He was featured in Time Magazine’s watershed issue on global warming as well as Newsweek’s “The Greening of America” issue. President Obama said, “Mayor Wynn has emerged as a national leader on energy policy and I’m honored to have his support.”
Wynn received training from Al Gore at The Climate Project in Nashville and has presented his Austin version of the slideshow that inspired the Academy Award-winning documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, to hundreds of community groups, business leaders and policy makers in calling for dramatic expansion of climate protection measures, specifically energy efficiency policies.
Mr. Wynn received the Alliance to Save Energy’s prestigious Charles H. Percy Public Service Award; was named Austinite of the Year by the Chamber of Commerce; was named Energy Executive of the Year by the 9,000-member Association of Energy Engineers; was awarded Scenic Austin’s first annual Scenic Hero Award; was honored for Outstanding Achievement at the U.S. Conference of Mayors 2007 Climate Protection Awards; and following Austin’s response to Hurricane Katrina, was named Local Public Official of the Year by the National Association of Social Workers.
Wynn graduated cum laude with a degree in Environmental Design from Texas A&M University in 1984 and also successfully completed the department’s optional three-year cooperative education work/study program. In 2006 he was named a Distinguished Alumni of their College of Architecture.
Will Wynn and his two daughters, ages 18 and 15, live in downtown Austin. Their electricity bill averages $50 per month (500 KwH, all from renewable sources). He walks to work and to most of his weekly errands. He welcomes questions about his carbon footprint.
Energy & Sustainability: Mr. Wynn’s Insights
If your organization would like to hear Mr. Wynn address topics such as energy policy, climate protection, energy efficiency and smart grids, please submit a Speaking Inquiry.