big perk

Houston company incentivizes renewable energy plans

Here's how Direct Energy hopes to grow its renewable energy clientbase. Photo via Getty Images

It pays to be a responsible energy consumer.

Direct Energy will be offering two-years of Amazon Prime for its new customers. The On Us promotion is part of an ongoing partnership with Amazon since 2018, and will include a fixed-rate electricity plan or a fixed-rate electricity plan with free nights or free weekends, and will be 100 percent renewable.

The On Us electricity suite will include free electricity between 9 p.m. and 9 a.m., free power from Friday night at 6 p.m. until midnight on Sunday, and a fixed rate for 24 months. Customers who already have Amazon Prime will receive a $15 gift card. The plan incentivizes new customers to join and receive the Prime membership, which is a $139 value.

“With this newest offer, Direct Energy makes it easy and seamless for customers to find the right electricity plan for their needs, with the added savings, convenience, and entertainment with Amazon Prime—all in a single membership,” Britany Keller, marketing lead at Direct Energy, says in a news release.

“Our customers can begin enjoying Prime membership as quickly as a day after they start service on an eligible plan with Direct Energy," she continues. "We are thrilled to continue to bring our customers new ways to enjoy Amazon Prime through our suite of ‘On Us’ plans.”

Direct Energy reports that it utilizes renewable energy from green sources like wind, geothermal, hydro, and solar energy to help reduce the carbon footprint.

Originally founded in Canada, Direct Energy is a subsidiary of Houston-based NRG Energy, which has recently announced its own sustainability advancements to NRG Park.

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A View From HETI

A View From UH

A Rice University professor studied the Earth's carbon cycle in the Rio Madre de Dios to shed light on current climate conditions. Photo courtesy of Mark Torres/Rice University

Carbon cycles through Earth, its inhabitants, and its atmosphere on a regular basis, but not much research has been done on that process and qualifying it — until now.

In a recent study of a river system extending from the Peruvian Andes to the Amazon floodplains, Rice University’s Mark Torres and collaborators from five institutions proved that that high rates of carbon breakdown persist from mountaintop to floodplain.

“The purpose of this research was to quantify the rate at which Earth naturally releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and find out whether this process varies across different geographic locations,” Torres says in a news release.

Torres published his findings in a study published in PNAS, explaining how they used rhenium — a silvery-gray, heavy transition metal — as a proxy for carbon. The research into the Earth’s natural, pre-anthropogenic carbon cycle stands to benefit humanity by providing valuable insight to current climate challenges.

“This research used a newly-developed technique pioneered by Robert Hilton and Mathieu Dellinger that relies on a trace element — rhenium — that’s incorporated in fossil organic matter,” Torres says. “As plankton die and sink to the bottom of the ocean, that dead carbon becomes chemically reactive in a way that adds rhenium to it.”

The research was done in the Rio Madre de Dios basin and supported by funding from a European Research Council Starting Grant, the European Union COFUND/Durham Junior Research Fellowship, and the National Science Foundation.

“I’m very excited about this tool,” Torres said. “Rice students have deployed this same method in our lab here, so now we can make this kind of measurement and apply it at other sites. In fact, as part of current research funded by the National Science Foundation, we are applying this technique in Southern California to learn how tectonics and climate influence the breakdown of fossil carbon.”

Torres also received a three-year grant from the Department of Energy to study soil for carbon storage earlier this year.

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