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Bill Sinkin’s Big Love Affair (Isn’t What You Think It Is)

Photo: Courtesy photos, License: N/A

Courtesy photos

The late Bill Sinkin championed civil rights and equality.

Photo: , License: N/A

The late Bill Sinkin in his trademark bow tie. Sinkin pioneered solar energy in San Antonio.


In the early ’80s, Sinkin got his first taste of the renewable energy source when he installed a solar hot water system at Texas State Bank. Sure, it ended up breaking and he couldn’t find anyone to fix it, but it was then that Sinkin knew he wanted to make solar power real for as many people as possible.

By age 86 he sought to educate SA about its potential, securing a grant from CPS Energy and spending time coordinating workshops and classes to encourage residents to adopt solar power. In 1999, Sinkin founded Solar San Antonio, a nonprofit that offers affordable renewable and alternative energy options. And in 2001, Sinkin founded the Metropolitan Partnership for Energy, now known as Build San Antonio Green, an organization that promotes resource-efficient building methods.

The results of his passion for solar are clear—Sinkin and Solar SA’s education campaign prompted CPS Energy to install 45 megawatts of centralized solar, sign a contract for another 400 megawatts and dedicate two solar farms in Sinkin’s name, accomplishments that his family relished seeing him take pride in. “It was very heartwarming to see him enjoy the fruit of his labor,” says Lanny, who now helms Solar San Antonio. Today, you’d be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t attribute San Antonio’s standing as a national leader in solar energy to Sinkin’s influence. In later years, says Lanny, Sinkin became deeply concerned about climate change, an increasing passion during his final days.

With his own impressive record as a community activist (netting awards from this very paper), Lanny follows in his father’s footsteps but at the same time, realizes the bar is set pretty damn high.

“I learned long ago I wouldn’t even think of trying to fill his shoes,” he says. “But that I could do my best version of him.”

Even in Sinkin’s final moments, when most would kick back and call it a day, he was still dreaming and encouraging others to dream big as well. Roughly two weeks ago, Frost received Sinkin’s New Year letter expressing his gratitude for such a wonderful 2013 and his anticipation for 2014. In the letter, Sinkin quoted novelist and poet C.S. Lewis, reminding his friends and family one last time, “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”

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