Axios Austin

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Happy Wednesday. And happy start of Eid al-Fitr to those celebrating.

☀️ Today's weather: Rain is possible this morning. Mostly sunny, with a high near 74.

ğŸŽ‚ Happy birthday to our Axios Austin member Anne Detraglia!

Today's newsletter is 887 words — a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: Texas emerges as top solar and wind producer

Energy generated by solar and wind, 2023
Data: Climate Central; Note: Includes both utility-scale and small-scale solar generation; Chart: Axios Visuals

The cosmological wonderment of this week left us contemplating the awesome power of the sun — and what we're doing to harness renewable energy.

Why it matters: The source of electrons for our lights, air-conditioning and appliances is increasingly important as we ponder our place in the universe.

Driving the news: Texas is a top producer of solar power and wind energy in the country, per a new Axios Generate analysis.

  • Energy from wind and solar installations nationwide is expected to outpace coal-fired electricity this year.
  • And solar power helped keep the lights on during January's Arctic blast in Texas.

The big picture: Solar and wind power generated enough electricity last year to power more than 61 million average American homes, the science communications nonprofit Climate Central says.

State of play: Coal and natural gas remain the top generators in Texas, though power-producers have diversified their portfolio over the years.

The irony: Free market-minded Texas kickstarted its wind energy empire a quarter-century ago with a legislative mandate ordering utility companies to get a certain amount of their energy from renewable power.

  • And then the state spread among Texas ratepayers the costs of transmission lines to bring wind energy from the rural parts of the state to Austin and other cities.

Between the lines: Last year, the Texas Legislature excluded wind and solar from a massive tax break program and passed bills to prop up the fossil fuel industry.

  • But the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act, President Biden's landmark climate legislation, has spurred production of renewable energy in Texas and across the country.

The intrigue: Higher interest rates, inflation and supply chain issues are spoiling the financial math of some alt-energy investments.

  • In Texas, January's low wind speeds contributed to a 22% drop in power generation by the state's wind farms compared to the same month in 2023.

What we're watching: How the wind and solar boom will help Texas in the summer.

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2. Roost Podcast Network sold to Night

Illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios

Warner Bros. Discovery has sold The Roost Podcast Network to Night, the talent management company that supports MrBeast and other YouTube and online creators.

Why it matters: The deal gives the podcast network a second chance amid significant cuts in audio and David Zaslav's aggressive cost-cutting at WBD.

Catch up quick: Austin-based entertainment firm Rooster Teeth launched in 2003.

  • The company announced in March it was shutting down, citing monetization challenges. However, it said the podcast network would keep running and seek a buyer.

Zoom in: The Roost Podcast Network has 47 shows, including "This Past Weekend with Theo Von," "H3 Podcast" and "The Phil DeFranco Show." It has more than 350 million views and 20 million monthly audio downloads.

  • Night, also Austin-based, is hiring most of the team, including podcast network head A.J. Feliciano.
  • Terms were not disclosed.

The intrigue: Night president Ezra Cooperstein was previously president of Rooster Teeth.

📬 Want more media news? Subscribe to Axios Pro: Media Deals.

3. 🤠 The Roundup: Wrangling the news

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

ğŸŽ’ IDEA Public School staff members were "evaluating" three students after a truck crashed into a school bus yesterday. (KXAN)

💰 Wonderbelly, the Austin-based antacid company, raised $12 million in a Series A funding round as it seeks to bolster its top line. (Axios Pro 🔒)

🌆 Two 25-story towers are being planned for the current DoubleTree UT Austin site along I-35. (Austin Business Journal 🔒)

4. Stats du jour: Eclipse boosts restaurants

Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Despite Monday's clouds blocking some eclipse views across Central Texas and the Hill Country, some restaurants still saw a boon.

Zoom in: Gillespie County, home to Fredericksburg, saw a 268% increase in restaurant sales via Square yesterday compared to the average Monday in April, per company data shared with Axios.

  • Kerr County, home to the eclipse hot spot of Kerrville, saw a 247% increase.

The increase was:

  • 78% in Hays County
  • 59% in Comal County
  • 25.5% in Travis County
  • 19% in Bexar County

The bottom line: Our stretch of Texas had a good Monday.

5. ⛱️ 1 patio to go

Don't sleep on the cauliflower tots and beet ketchup. Photo: Bob Gee/Axios

👋 Axios Texas bureau chief Bob Gee here with a patio recommendation.

Why it matters: Warm spring evenings are why we live in Austin. Enjoy them before the summer heat sets in.

Dig in: Better Half, paired with Hold Out Brewing, offers a well-executed, eclectic menu and tasty beer in a quintessential Austin patio setting.

  • Nestled among the rapidly changing West Fifth corridor, Better Half almost feels like Old Austin, even though it's only been around for six years.

What to try: Smoked butter chicken crispy rice, $23. It's tangy and spicy. And the cardamom-scented rice is perfectly crisped.

  • The cold vermicelli salad with a vegan pineapple "fish" sauce vinaigrette ($16, half for $9) nicely accompanies a sun-dappled evening. We were pining for some fresh herbs, however.
  • The cheeseburger ($12) is one of Statesman food critic Matthew Odam's favorites. (Get one for $6 during happy hour, 3-6pm from Tuesday to Friday.)

Don't miss: Cauliflower tots with beet ketchup ($8). Perfectly light and delicately crispy.

🍹 What to drink: Ripcord CGX, an easy-drinking West Coast IPA, $8.

🅿️ Where to park: A large gravel lot is tucked by the railroad tracks behind Better Half and Hold Out on West Fourth Street.

✅ Pro tip: Come back for brunch.

📍 If you go: Better Half, 406 Walsh St.

Thanks to Chloe Gonzales for editing and Caitlin Wolper and Yasmeen Altaji for copy editing this newsletter.

📺 Asher is watching this interview with his dad from about 35 years ago about the AIDS epidemic and free expression.

🚙 Nicole is reading this story from Axios Twin Cities about what Minnesota can learn from Uber and Lyft's yearlong exit in Austin.