AUSTIN (KXAN) - David Schraub got sick and tired of people dissing hisideas.
"I used to go to solar meetings all around and everybody says,'It can't be done.' Well, I don't like to hear it can't be done,"he said.
Schraub spent 23 years as a semi-conductor engineer forcompanies like AMD, Sony, Motorola and Freescale. Along the way, hegot himself a small ranch in Bastrop County, just like several ofhis engineer friends had done. They all used to gripe amongthemselves about how hard it was to keep from losing money on theranching operations.
Schraub got an idea. Why not put solar energy panels on severalacres of his ranch. He could produce energy for his own needs andsell the rest to the LCRA for distribution to area powercustomers.
Then he got an even better idea. Why not catch rainwater fallingoff those panels. He could use the water on his land and bottle therest to sell to the public. It didn't take long, however, torealize all that was an expensive proposition. So, he and hisbuddies decided to build what they think is the world's largestfixed rainwater collection facility at an existing industrialcomplex near Smithville.
Last fall, they formed Texas Rainwater and started capturing,filtering, bottling and selling rain. The idea is to build a demandfor the product, sell it far and wide, and use the money to helpcut the cost of installing solar systems. A separate companySchraub owns, Natural Renewable Energy, would do theinstallations.
The ideas kept coming. TexasRainwater offers rebates to it's retail customers. They can usethat money to help pay for solar projects on their ownbuildings.
"They can also donate it to schools; they can donate it to anon-profit," Schraub said. "They can do whatever they want. It'stheir money to direct where they want to do it; they just have tospend it on a solar installation or a renewable energyproject.”
The water at the plant goes into plastic bottles, normally anenvironmental drawback. But Schraub’s bottles are unlike mostothers.
“The bottles break down in one to five years in a landfillwith microbes, whereas a regular PET bottle takes upwards of 1000years to break down, he said. “And then, they're fullyrecyclable; they're the only biodegradable bottles that are fullyrecyclable, as well.”
The next step is the addition of a solar energy installation atthe Smithville site, along with a series of small wind turbines tohelp educate people about what can actually be done these days.
Looking around his creation, Schraub recalls some earlier days,a time when he helped lobby the Texas Legislature for help withsolar power. When a decade passed without results, though, hedecided to take matters into his own hands. Now he points thosesame hands at his growing energy empire off State Highway 71 andbeams like a ray of sunshine.
“It’s a solar incentive for Texas.”
The freezing and near-freezing rain that swooped into Central Texas overnight prompted numerous school closings and delays and made for a harrowing morning commute on Friday.
A man is charged with murder in the shooting death Wednesday of a woman at a North Austin auto repair shop, police said Friday.
A man is expected to survive after being stabbed in the head at the Salvation Army shelter in Downtown Austin at about 3:45 a.m. Friday.
It's the first criminal charge following a yearlong criminal investigation into the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas.
With freezing temperatures pushing through the region, heating systems will likely be working overtime, which can bring rising energy bills.
Investigators are looking into an overnight fire that left one woman with third-degree burns.