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

HEXASpec was founded by Rice Ph.D. candidates Tianshu Zhai and Chen-Yang Lin, who are a part of Lilie’s 2024 Innovation Fellows program. Photo courtesy of Rice

A group of Rice University student-founded companies shared $100,000 of cash prizes at an annual startup competition — and three of those winning companies are focused on sustainable solutions.

Liu Idea Lab for Innovation and Entrepreneurship's H. Albert Napier Rice Launch Challenge, hosted by Rice earlier this month, named its winners for 2024. HEXASpec, a company that's created a new material to improve heat management for the semiconductor industry, won the top prize and $50,000 cash.

Founded by Rice Ph.D. candidates Tianshu Zhai and Chen-Yang Lin, who are a part of Lilie’s 2024 Innovation Fellows program, HEXASpec is improving efficiency and sustainability within the semiconductor industry, which usually consumes millions of gallons of water used to cool data centers. According to Rice's news release, HEXASpec's "next-generation chip packaging offer 20 times higher thermal conductivity and improved protection performance, cooling the chips faster and reducing the operational surface temperature."

A few other sustainability-focused startups won prizes, too. CoFlux Purification, a company that has a technology that breaks down PFAS using a novel absorbent for chemical-free water, won second place and $25,000, as well as the Audience Choice Award, which came with an additional $2,000.

Solidec, a company that's working on a platform to produce chemicals from captured carbon, and HEXASpec won Outstanding Achievement in Climate Solutions Prizes, which came with $1,000.

The NRLC, open to Rice students, is Lilie's hallmark event. Last year's winner was fashion tech startup, Goldie.

“We are the home of everything entrepreneurship, innovation and research commercialization for the entire Rice student, faculty and alumni communities,” Kyle Judah, executive director at Lilie, says in a news release. “We’re a place for you to immerse yourself in a problem you care about, to experiment, to try and fail and keep trying and trying and trying again amongst a community of fellow rebels, coloring outside the lines of convention."

This year, the competition started with 100 student venture teams before being whittled down to the final five at the championship. The program is supported by Lilie’s mentor team, Frank Liu and the Liu Family Foundation, Rice Business, Rice’s Office of Innovation, and other donors

“The heart and soul of what we’re doing to really take it to the next level with entrepreneurship here at Rice is this fantastic team,” Peter Rodriguez, dean of Rice Business, adds. “And they’re doing an outstanding job every year, reaching further, bringing in more students. My understanding is we had more than 100 teams submit applications. It’s an extraordinarily high number. It tells you a lot about what we have at Rice and what this team has been cooking and making happen here at Rice for a long, long time.”

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This article originally ran on InnovationMap.

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