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“Smart” Community In Texas Features Chevy Volts And Solar Panels

Pecan Street, Austin, Texas

Upon first glance, the neighborhood of Mueller seems like any other “urban village” in the US. Handsome row houses and single-family dwellings dominate the landscape which is speckled by trees and parks. People get to their destinations either by walking or driving.

But a closer look underneath Mueller’s picturesque façade reveals a neighborhood of solar panels, a smart grid, and electric cars. Indeed driving casually through Mueller’s streets, one would soon realize that an inordinate number of Chevy Volts dominate the roads – the most utilized vehicle by this neighborhood’s residents.

Mueller is located 3 miles from downtown Austin on the site of an abandoned Airport. It is master-planned community, developed by Pecan Street Incorporated, with the objective of creating one of the greenest communities in the US. Altogether the community features 600 homes, many with their own solar panels and EV sitting in the driveway.

Houses include smart appliances and energy management systems linked up to the local smart grid. When the sun is shining in Austin, Texas (which is quite frequently), it is not uncommon for houses to use a minimal amount of electricity from the grid. Last August, when Austin experienced the hottest weather ever recorded, houses featuring west-facing solar panels were almost completely off-the-grid.

But one of the biggest insights the neighborhood of Mueller will provide is the influence a high number of EVs will have on the grid. Many utilities are already bracing for the higher number of EVs American cities will feature in the future. Since Mueller features so many EVs in such a condensed area, it will serve as an informative case study on what utilities can expect as the EV market continues to expand.

What are your thoughts on the Mueller community in Austin? Do you think it should serve as a model for sustainable development?

Image: General Motors

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