turner's legacy

In final State of the City speech, Houston mayor addresses resiliency, energy transition efforts

"I am proud of the city that I shall pass forward." Photo courtesy of the city of Houston

For his eighth and final time, Mayor Sylvester Turner delivered the State of the City address last week, and he highlighted some of the gains within his tenure.

"We are greener, more compassionate, more united, and more forward-moving than we can ever imagine," says Mayor Turner. “What I can say to Houstonians is that I have given you my best, and I am proud of the city that I shall pass forward.”

At the event, which boasted a sold-out crowd of 1,500 Houstonians, Mayor turned announced some of the initiatives he's most proud of accomplishing and revealed release of “A Winning Legacy,” a book detailing his legacy.

“Together, we have faced many storms – seven federally declared disasters in eight years. From floods or a freeze, from a Super Bowl or the pandemic, we rose and met the challenges of our times,” says the mayor in his speech. “From inequities in neighborhoods investments to billions of dollars in pension unfunded liabilities, from One Safe Houston to One Clean Houston, we confronted each issue head on and set the city on firmer footing.”

Mayor Turner goes on to name the other storms that hit Houston during his tenure, and how resiliency and the energy transition became major themes of this office.

"We are the energy capital of the world," he says to the crowd. "We purchase more renewable energy than any other city in the United States. ... We lead the country in renewables."

In the address, Mayor Turner mentions his work on a project, announced last year, to convert a former landfill into a solar farm.

"The Sunnyside Solar Farm, which will be the largest urban solar farm in the country, will be operational by 2024," he says.

Mayor Turner wraps up his speech, which is available in its entirety on the city's YouTube page, with noting that he is leaving the next mayor — who will be decided in next month's election — with a $420 million surplus. When Mayor Turner was elected in 2015, the city had a $160 million deficit.

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A View From HETI

A Houston-based initiative has been selected by the DOE to receive funding to develop clean energy innovation programming for startups and entrepreneurs. Photo via Getty Images

Houston has been selected as one of the hubs backed by a new program from the United States Department of Energy that's developing communities for clean energy innovation.

The DOE's Office of Technology Transitions announced the the first phase of winners of the Energy Program for Innovation Clusters, or EPIC, Round 3. The local initiative is one of 23 incubators and accelerators that was awarded $150,000 to support programming for energy startups and entrepreneurs.

The Houston-based participant is called "Texas Innovates: Carbon and Hydrogen Innovation and Learning Incubator," or CHILI, and it's a program meant to feed startups into the DOE recognized HyVelocity program and other regional decarbonization efforts.

EPIC was launched to drive innovation at a local level and to inspire commercial success of energy startups. It's the third year of the competition that wraps up with a winning participant negotiating a three-year cooperative agreement with OTT worth up to $1 million.

“Incubators and Accelerators are uniquely positioned to provide startups things they can't get anywhere else -- mentorship, technology validation, and other critical business development support," DOE Chief Commercialization Officer and Director of OTT Vanessa Z. Chan says in a news release. “The EPIC program allows us to provide consistent funding to organizations who are developing robust programming, resources, and support for innovative energy startups and entrepreneurs.”

CHILI, the only participant in Texas, now moves on to the second phase of the competition, where they will design a project continuation plan and programming for the next seven months to be submitted in September.

where they’ll implement their programming and design a project continuation plan over the next 7 months. In September they will submit their plans with the hope of being selected to negotiate a three-year cooperative agreement with OTT, worth up to $1 million each.

Phase 2 also includes two national pitch competitions with a total of $165,000 in cash prizes up for grabs for startups. The first EPIC pitch event for 2024 will be in June at the 2024 Small Business Forum & Expo in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Last fall, the DOE selected the Gulf Coast's project, HyVelocity Hydrogen Hub, as one of the seven regions to receive a part of the $7 billion in Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The hub was announced to receive up to $1.2 billion — the most any hub will get.

The DOE's OTT selections are nationwide. Photo via energy.gov

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