seeing green

Houston-area counties land DOE funding for energy infrastructure projects

Harris County was awarded $1.64 million, the largest total among the local governments. Photo via Getty Images

The U.S. Department of Energy recently awarded more than $2 million to Harris and Montgomery counties for projects that improve energy efficiency and infrastructure in the region.

The funds come from the DOE's Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) Program. Harris and Montgomery counties are among 28 state, local, and Tribal governments to have been awarded a total of $30 million through the initiative, according to a statement.

The grants were awarded to eight states, four cities, four counties and 12 smaller, rural communities.

“Our local governments are at the forefront of our clean energy revolution and are critical touchpoints with our nation’s communities creating clean, healthy and affordable communities,” U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm says in a statement. “With historic funding thanks to President Biden’s clean energy laws, more Americans will receive upgrades to their homes through residential energy efficiency rebates, expanded weatherization efforts, and electrification programs that will save them energy and increase their comfort.

"This funding will also invest in improving public spaces, giving more Americans across the country access to energy efficient technologies and clean energy infrastructure in their communities such as heat pumps, LED lights, solar energy, and EV charging stations,” she continues.

Harris County was awarded $1.64 million, the largest total among the local governments. It will be put toward for several projects:

  • Conducting community engagement with disadvantaged communities for climate justice planning
  • Performing site assessments for solar and storage on county properties in disadvantaged communities
  • Conducting recycling pilots at county facilities
  • Enhancing walking and bicycling to school as part of the Safe Routes to School plan
  • Deploying an off-grid, solar EV station on county property in a disadvantaged community in the greater-Houston area

Montgomery County was awarded $457,580 to replace 150 metal halide lights at a community sports field with LED lights and add wireless controls.

According to the DOE, more than $430 million in formula grant funding is available through the EECBG Program and another 2,700 governments and tribes are eligible for funds. Grants are slated to be awarded on a rolling basis as the department receives applications. The application deadline for eligible local governments and tribes has been extended to April 30, 2024.

Other states, local governments and tribes to recieve funding in this round include:

States

  • Alabama ($2,207,540)
  • Alaska ($1,627,450)
  • Idaho ($1,742,300)
  • Louisiana ($2,149,350)
  • Maine ($1,668,790)
  • Ohio ($3,130,030)
  • Rhode Island ($1,675,110)
  • Washington ($2,273,890)

Local governments

  • Bend, Oregon ($152,740)
  • Boston, Massachusetts ($659,990)
  • Los Angeles County, California ($1,344,700)
  • Minneapolis, Minnesota ($424,330)
  • Nashville, Tennessee ($644,440)
  • Wagoner County, Oklahoma ($76,900)

EECBG Program Competitive Awards

  • Albany, California ($200,000)
  • Cascade, Idaho ($200,000)
  • Decatur, Georgia ($400,000)
  • Decorah, Iowa ($1,100,000)
  • Durham County, North Carolina ($1,500,000)
  • Eagle County, Colorado ($1,400,000)
  • Exeter, New Hampshire ($200,000)
  • Kittery, Maine ($800,000)
  • Littleton, Massachusetts ($300,000)
  • MOWA Band of Choctaw Indians in Alabama ($1,100,000)
  • Nenana, Alaska ($900,000)
  • Peterborough, New Hampshire ($700,000) and Harrisville, NH

The funds add to the list for grants the federal government has doled out to Houston-area projects related to the energy transition in recent months.

Earlier in October, Granholm announced that the HyVelocity Hydrogen Hub would receive funding through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The project, which connects more than 1,000 miles of hydrogen pipelines, 48 hydrogen production facilities and dozens of hydrogen end-use applications across Texas and Southwest Louisiana will receive up to $1.2 billion.

The DOE also granted more than $10 million in funding to four carbon capture projects with ties to Houston earlier this summer.

And in September, Rice University announced that it would host the Carbon Management Community Summit this fall, sponsored by the DOE, and in partnership with the city of Houston and climate change-focused multimedia company Climate Now. The event takes place next month.

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A View From HETI

Grace Rodriguez (left) and Juliana Garaizar have partnered up — along with their teams — to collaborate on the Equitable Energy Transition Alliance and Lab. Photos courtesy

A group of Houston's innovation and energy leaders teamed up to establish an initiative supporting equitability in the energy transition.

Impact Hub Houston, a nonprofit incubator and ecosystem builder, partnered with Energy Tech Nexus to establish the Equitable Energy Transition Alliance and Lab to accelerate startup pilots for underserved communities. The initiative announced that it's won the 2024 U.S. Small Business Administration Growth Accelerator Fund Competition, or GAFC, Stage One award.

"We are incredibly honored to be recognized by the SBA alongside our esteemed partners at Energy Tech Nexus," Grace Rodriguez, co-founder and executive director of Impact Hub Houston, says in a news release. "This award validates our shared commitment to building a robust innovation ecosystem in Houston, especially for solutions that advance the Sustainable Development Goals at the critical intersections of industry, innovation, sustainability, and reducing inequality."

The GAFC award, which honors and supports small business research and development, provides $50,000 prize to its winners. The Houston collaboration aligns with the program's theme area of Sustainability and Biotechnology.

“This award offers us a great opportunity to amplify the innovations of Houston’s clean energy and decarbonization pioneers,” adds Juliana Garaizar, founding partner of the Energy Tech Nexus. “By combining Impact Hub Houston’s entrepreneurial resources with Energy Tech Nexus’ deep industry expertise, we can create a truly transformative force for positive change.”

Per the release, Impact Hub Houston and Energy Tech Nexus will use the funding to recruit new partners, strengthen existing alliances, and host impactful events and programs to help sustainable startups access pilots, contracts, and capital to grow.

"SBA’s Growth Accelerator Fund Competition Stage One winners join the SBA’s incredible network of entrepreneurial support organizations contributing to America’s innovative startup ecosystem, ensuring the next generation of science and technology-based innovations scale into thriving businesses," says U.S. SBA Administrator Isabel Casillas Guzman.

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This article originally ran on InnovationMap.

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