Candidate Q&A – Daniel Ayala – PEC Board of Directors District 7

Briefly describe your educational and professional background as they relate to this position.

I am a dedicated leader, educator, and advocate committed to fostering positive change in both education and environmental policy. With a rich background in education and community service and engagement, I have demonstrated an unwavering commitment to enhancing the well-being of this community.

My passion for education extends beyond the classroom, as evidenced by my involvement as Vice-Chair of the executive board for the Hays CISD DAC. In this role, I have been instrumental in shaping policies and initiatives aimed at improving educational outcomes and equal opportunity for all students and employees within the district.

As a graduate of Texas State University with a Bachelor of Science in Wildlife Biology, I am a staunch advocate for environmental conservation and sustainability. As the Vice President of the Texas Environmental Caucus, I’ve been at the forefront of efforts to address pressing environmental challenges facing Texas. My leadership and advocacy have been instrumental in promoting policies that protect our natural resources and mitigate the impacts of climate change. All while promoting the hybridization and weatherization of our electric grid.

I was recognized for my outstanding leadership and service, having been named a Regional Finalist for the prestigious White House Fellows Program. Only 100 applicants are selected from thousands of candidates from the entire country as regional finalists. Founded in 1964, The President’s Commission on White House Fellowships is the nation’s premier program for leadership and public service. The White House Fellowship offers exceptional Americans first-hand experience working at the most senior levels of the Federal government. Selected fellows are paid to work full-time with members of the President’s Cabinet and Senior White House staff.  This esteemed recognition underscores my exceptional leadership qualities and my potential to affect meaningful change at the highest levels of government.

With a business background from my Business Administration degree, I earned from El Paso early in my career, as well as my experience running my family’s small business. I have the acumen to help make the necessary decisions that are needed to help keep our energy cost low while protecting the interests of all stakeholders from unprecedented weather phenomena that appear to be the new normal. I have been a member of the Hays County community since 2011 and reside in San Marcos with my wife Maria who serves as an elementary teacher.

What motivated you to run for the PEC board, and what do you bring to the position?

The prospect of making a real impact in my community and helping address the biggest threat that that we face as a planet is what motivates me most. I am inquisitive by nature and I love helping others. I love building consensus and speaking with people who think differently than I do. I find that I excel at finding common ground with most folks, even if they might not be inclined to do so initially. As the VP of the environmental caucus, I became a part of the largest network of “conservation and climate mitigating” minded individuals. I meet with them monthly and they are a valuable resource for initiatives and programs that I can help promote within the cooperative.

What actions or initiatives will you work to implement to reduce the negative impact of power production on the climate?

My main focus is to be the voice that educates and champions the weatherization and hybridization of our energy infrastructure. There are some agri-voltaic solutions that would go a long way to providing relief and credits to our agriculture while lowering costs and protecting our investments for everyone else. I’m also aware that the board has refused to accept millions in federal funds that would have helped insulate our infrastructure and help provide relief for thousands of members. I will work on keeping myself up to date on the latest state and federal energy programs that will allow me to maintain my fiduciary duty to the members.

How would you ensure the stability and resiliency of the power grid in times of natural disasters?

By voting in favor and convincing the other directors of the importance of weatherizing our infrastructure. I will focus on proving the importance of our emergency generators. I will push for the investment in alternate sources of fuel such as ammonia.

Some energy companies subsidize members’ costs for installing renewable energy systems. What is your position on incentivizing members to install solar, wind or other renewable energy sources at their homes or businesses?

I am very pro-renewables and would vote in favor of subsidizing member cost. Especially as an incentive for slowly moving away from fossil fuels.

The federal Inflation Reduction Act provides huge amounts of money for addressing climate change, but the current PEC board has been reluctant to request these funds. How would you get the Board to maximize funding like this to improve PEC climate resilience?

I would first put together an email that invites them over to a dinner or event that they would be more amenable to attending. I would highlight how much the members would have to gain from the lower bill. I would really focus on how much they could directly communicate to their constituents that they helped make the difference in their bill. I don’t need the credit I just believe in getting the job done.

Austin Energy gives a solar bill credit of 9.91 cents/kWhr and a $2,500 rebate for installing solar panels. PEC’s current “distributed generation” system offers only 6.96 cents/kWhr and no rebate for installing solar panels. How will you work to improve these kinds of incentives for PEC customers?

That is a very good question that I don’t specifically have an answer to. It’s not that I’m not aware of the importance of getting these rebates. However, the PEC holds very close to the chest how they go about making some of their decisions. Rest assured it will be a priority to incentivize both the cooperative itself and the members to allow for solar integration into the PEC grid. All while making sure that all members are provided with options and protections against scams.

Ayala Photo

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