Harman Patil

Michael J. Osborne

Updated on
Share on FacebookTweet on TwitterShare on LinkedIn

Michael J. Osborne - (born: September 20, 1949 in Amarillo, Texas.) An author, inventor, entrepreneur, visionary and energy policymaker, Michael Osborne has been a pioneer in promoting Texas renewable energy resources for over three decades. He was one of three founding members of the Texas Renewable Energy Industries Alliance (TREIA). His public service appointments have included the steering committees of the State of Texas Energy Policy Partnership (STEPP) and the Sustainable Energy Development Council under Governor Ann Richards; and later, the Texas Energy Coordination Council appointed by Governor George W. Bush. As Chair of the Austin Electric Utility Commission, Osborne has traveled internationally to speak and consult about the Texas energy experience. In 2015 he was part of the Austin, Texas delegation to the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference held in Paris, France.

Early Life and Education

The youngest of two sons born to Maxine Joan Chambers Osborne (a businesswoman and investor) and Jack Harold Osborne (a WW II Navy pilot and rancher), Michael was born in Amarillo, Texas on Sept 20, 1949. When he was six, his family moved to the small town of Pampa, Texas where he later became captain of the Pampa High School golf team and played guitar and piano in two rock-and-roll bands.  He graduated in 1967. At the age of seventeen Michael moved to Austin, Texas to attend the University of Texas and majored in aerospace engineering and later, business marketing. He withdrew from school one semester short of a degree after his business school dean denied him project credit for an advertising agency, Directions Company, he had started on the side.

Professional Life

Marketing Music. As founder of Directions Company, Michael focused on marketing music venues such as Castle Creek, Mother Earth, and the legendary Armadillo World Headquarters (1973-1980), a famed venue that led the Music of Austin Texas to national prominence. The Armadillo became a springboard for the careers of celebrated musicians such as: Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Marcia Ball, Joe Ely, Jerry Jeff Walker, Bruce Springsteen, Shiva’s Headband, and many more.

Renewable Energy Business.  Influenced by architect, inventor and philosopher, Buckminster Fuller, who believed in the importance of renewable energy, Osborne began to focus on the renewable energy business in the late 1970s by building passive solar homes and selling energy-saving wood stoves. In 1981 he developed the first wind energy project (consisting of five 25-kilowatt wind turbines) that sold energy to an electric utility in Texas. in 1983, he signed on as the first distributor in Texas for Solarex, a now-defunct maker of solar cells used then as power sources for such things as ranch gates, railroad signals and other places where stringing power lines was difficult or expensive. In the 1990s he ran the Texas operations for Zond Energy, which is now part of GE Wind Energy, the largest U.S. wind turbine maker. Throughout the 80's and 90s, Osborne documented and leased the wind resource for Texas wind fields. Many of his exploits are documented in the book, The Great Texas Wind Rush.

In 1999, Osborne was awarded Patent No. US5961739A for his invention of the Hemispheric Moving Focus Power Plant

Renewable Energy Policy.  In 1984 Michael Osborne co-founded the Texas Renewable Energy Industries Association (now Alliance) (TREIA) with two partners and worked with other key individuals and organizations to bring the nascent renewable energy industry to the attention of policymakers on the state and federal level. Governor Ann Richards appointed him to the steering committees of the State of Texas Energy Policy Partnership and the Sustainable Energy Development Council followed by an appointment by Richards’ successor, George W. Bush to the Texas Energy Coordination Council.

In 2002, Osborne was commissioned by the City of Austin to write a white paper funded by a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Grant, to develop a Sustainable Energy Plan for the City. The white paper was published as the book, Silver In The Mine. He was subsequently hired by the City to implement this sustainable energy plan as Director of Grants, Patents and R&D. Osborne served as Special Assistant to two Austin Energy General Managers and was charged with developing a vision for Austin which included a successful national campaign to get the automakers to support mass production of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.

Upon leaving Austin Energy in 2014, Osborne served as Chairman of the City of Austin Electric Utility Commission from 2014 to 2016 and currently serves as a member of that body. He was also appointed Chairman of the City of Austin Generation Resource Planning Task Force, which resulted in an adopted generation plan to bring Austin (the nation's 7th largest public power utility and the 11th largest city in America) to 55% renewable energy by 2025. Michael is also the principal of The Osborne Companies. He lives in Austin with his longtime partner, Dr. Dana Sprute.


Michael Osborne is a published writer. His book, Lightland, is a philosophical look at the human potential in light of the challenge of climate change. His book, Silver in the Mine, is a long term comprehensive energy plan for the City of Austin, Texas. His third is an allegory called Day of the Heart. His most recent work is Beyond Light and Dark.

Articles And Interviews About Michael Osborne and Renewable Energy in Texas

  • How Austin Came to Be A Solar Powerhouse, The Texas Sierra Club, Nov 5, 2015 - http://www.sierraclub.org/texas/blog/2015/11/how-austin-came-be-solar-powerhouse
  • Austin Energy Offers Solar Expansion as City Zeroes in on Carbon-Free Goal, KUT Public Radio, Austin, Texas, Sept. 25, 2014 - http://kut.org/post/austin-energy-offers-solar-expansion-city-zeroes-carbon-free-goal
  • Deep in the Heart of Texas: A Wind Energy Maverick Takes an Alberta Field Trip, Ecocide, Aug. 1, 2014 - http://ecocidealert.com/?p=6392
  • Texas Solar Power May Have its Day in the Sun, The Texas Observer, March 27, 2014 - https://www.texasobserver.org/texas-solar-power-day-sun/
  • A Mighty Wind, Texas Monthly, Aug. 2011 - http://www.texasmonthly.com/article/a-mighty-wind-2/
  • The Austin Chronicle:
  • Point Austin: A Funny Thing Happened, Dec. 11, 2015 - http://www.austinchronicle.com/news/2015-12-11/point-austin-a-funny-thing-happened/
  • Pioneers or Settlers?, Jan. 16, 2015 - http://www.austinchronicle.com/news/2015-01-16/pioneers-or-settlers/
  • Affordability Key to Climate Plan Goals, July 17, 2014 - http://www.austinchronicle.com/news/2014-07-18/affordability-key-to-climate-plan-goals/
  • Fighting for the Right to Clean Energy, Nov. 19, 2004 - http://www.austinchronicle.com/news/2004-11-19/238560/
  • External Links

  • Austin Electric Utility Commission Chairman Michael Osborne on Austin Texas Solar Energy Programs:

  • Michael Osborne on Predictable Renewable Energy:

  • Michael Osborne: Solar Energy A lot More Valuable Than Conventional Energy:

  • Michael Osborne: The Solar Age Comes:

  • Texas Renewable Energy Industries Association (TREIA) Annual Conference, Michael Osborne - The Long Dawn - Part 1:

  • Texas Renewable Energy Industries Association Annual Conference (TREIA), The Long Dawn - Part 2:

  • Voice of America Radio: "The Maverick of Renewable Energy - Making Life Brighter with Michael J. Osborne": https://www.voiceamerica.com/guest/22834/michael-j-osborne
  • References

    Michael J. Osborne Wikipedia

    Similar Topics
    Ladies Should Listen
    Tony Core
    Jytte Guteland