This latest incident is more than a sign that Houstonians must take control of their power. Photo by Eric Turnquist

On the evening of May 16, a devastating “derecho” storm howled through Houston. Nearly 800,000 customers lost power. Many were still without electricity days later, as a heat wave baked neighborhoods that couldn’t power air conditioners.

It was yet another unwelcome reminder about the precariousness of the power grid.

These outages followed repeated grid warnings, conservation calls, and near-misses last summer and the summer before, as well as the catastrophic Winter Storm Uri freeze in February 2021.

The outages also preceded the increasingly extreme weather Texas faces and staggering growth on the ERCOT grid: after growing about 1 percent a year for 20 years, the power grid covering most of Texas may need to be 78 percent bigger by 2030.

So, this latest incident is more than a sign that Houstonians must take control of their power. It also shows that more and more, the state needs you to act.

Like any other market, a power grid runs on supply and demand. The supply of Texas energy is growing, which is great. At the same time, the economy is booming, leaving Texas setting demand records almost constantly. Generators can’t always keep up, especially when power plants break down or don’t produce electricity — there’s about an 18 percent chance that Texas will face at least one grid emergency this summer.

With odds like that, it’s no wonder that more and more Texans are finding ways to live more powerfully. Many are investing in solar panels and energy storage devices like Tesla Powerwalls.

These systems let families and business owners generate electricity during the day, store it, and use it later when there’s an emergency or just when power is scarce. They protect people from high bills and blackouts; it’s no coincidence that just since last month's storm, we've seen a five-fold increase in leads, reflecting a huge growth in interest in solar power. Further, since the storm, 90 percent of new Houston-area solar customers have bought backup battery systems, compared to 50 percent in 2024 and less than 25 percent in 2023.

That pattern has repeated across the country after severe weather events.

Homeowners and business owners can also slash their bills by weatherizing houses and buildings, the way power plants did after Uri. Advanced devices that help people automatically, and voluntarily, reduce electricity use when the grid is stretched would also help.

These improvements and investments would help more than just homeowners and business owners — they’d help the entire power grid. Every kilowatt that someone doesn’t need or can generate themselves frees up power for other families and businesses across the grid. That helps Texas keep the lights on, especially if electricity demand is about to spike as dramatically as the state expects.

Texas already incentivizes conservation and generation at a large scale. For example, large users like manufacturers and crypto miners get paid by ERCOT for reducing electricity use when the grid is stretched. And just last year, the legislature passed a $10 billion program to help fund new gas power plants.

It’s past time to extend similar incentives to everyday Texans, especially when we’re increasingly called upon to help ERCOT keep the lights on.

If crypto companies get money for reducing electricity use when ERCOT asks them to, then residential and business customers deserve to get paid too. The state could help Texans invest in technologies and smart metering programs that cut bills andautomatically reward people for reducing use on the hottest afternoons and coldest mornings.

More than that, the state has got to do more to reward solar customers who generate electricity and return it to the grid when demand rises. These virtual power plants will increasingly provide vital power when the state badly needs it, and consumers need to be rewarded for it. (Fortunately, the state is looking at strategies to take better advantage of virtual power plants.)

Finally, if Texas is helping big generators build gas plants, it should figure out ways to help regular Texans install solar panels and battery storage units. Such systems obviously help protect Texans from power outages, but they also fortify the ERCOT grid by reducing the demand on it.

Last month’s derecho was exactly the sort of freak occurrence that will become more common as the weather grows more extreme. The best way to protect the grid from such catastrophes is to protect individual Texas customers as well.

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Bret Biggart is CEO of Freedom Solar Power, a Texas-based solar company.


Quidnet Energy has entered into a strategic partnership with Hunt Energy Network, and the two Texas companies will work on a build-transfer program for 300 MW of storage projects in Texas. Photo via quidnetenergy.com

Houston energy storage company forms $10M partnership to enhance storage in ERCOT region

teaming up

A Houston-based company that's developing long-duration energy storage solutions announced a $10 million investment and partnership with a Texas corporation.

Quidnet Energy has entered into a strategic partnership with Hunt Energy Network, an affiliate of Dallas-based Hunt Energy that develops and operates distributed energy resources. The two Texas companies will work on a build-transfer program for 300 MW of storage projects that uses Quidnet's Geomechanical Energy Storage technology in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) grid operating region.

“Hunt Energy Network brings an extensive and proven track record across diverse energy businesses, making them an ideal partner to address the need for large-scale, long-duration energy storage in Texas,” Joe Zhou, CEO of Quidnet Energy, says in a news release. “We’re thrilled to have them as an investor, partner, and board member, and we look forward to jointly advancing the deployment of energy storage solutions, particularly in regions like ERCOT where the need is most pressing.”

Todd Benson, the chief innovation officer of Hunt Energy, will join Quidnet's board of directors as a part of the partnership.

“Quidnet Energy's GES technology presents a unique opportunity to revolutionize energy storage, and we’re excited to invest in a solution that purposefully transforms existing resources to expand access to long-duration storage,” adds Pat Wood, III, CEO of HEN. “ERCOT's growing supply of renewable energy makes this region ideal for the deployment of our technology, and we’re pleased to work with another Texas innovator to build a more resilient grid for all ERCOT customers.”

Quidnet’s technology, which can provide over 10 hours of storage, uses drilling and hydropower machinery to store renewable energy. Essentially, the company, founded in 2013, is using water storage to power carbon-free electric grid approach to energy.

One year ago, Quidnet secured $10 million from the U.S. Department of Energy Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, or ARPA-E. Just a few months after that, the company received an additional $2 million from the DOE for its project, entitled "Energy Storage Systems for Overpressure Environments," which is taking place in East Texas.

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Houston renewable energy developer teams up with global commercial real estate biz

collaboration station

Houston-based Catalyze, a developer of independent power systems, has teamed up with commercial real estate services powerhouse Cushman & Wakefield to expand installation of solar panels and battery storage technology at U.S. commercial and industrial properties.

The two companies say the partnership will help owners and tenants of office buildings, warehouses, and other commercial properties reduce utility costs, boost operating income, achieve environmental goals and ease stress on the power grid.

“This partnership marks a significant step forward in our mission to accelerate the adoption of renewable energy among commercial and industrial customers, benefiting both tenants and building owners,” Jared Haines, CEO of Catalyze, says in a news release.

The partnership will enable Cushman & Wakefield to decrease greenhouse gas emissions at facilities it manages for clients as well as its own corporate offices. The real estate sector accounts for about 40 percent of greenhouse gas emissions around the world.

“Our strategic partnership with Catalyze is a testament to our shared commitment to decarbonize the built environment by being at the forefront of the clean energy revolution,” says Jessica Francisco, Cushman & Wakefield’s chief sustainability officer. “Together, we are poised to advance the adoption of solar and storage technologies while driving down costs for our clients.”

In May, Catalyze announced that it secured $100 million in financing from NY Green Bank to support a 79 megawatt portfolio of community distributed generation solar projects across the state of New York.

Houston crews deal with disgruntled residents over power outages after Beryl

Houston, we have a problem

Drawn guns. Thrown rocks. Threatening messages. Houston’s prolonged outages following Hurricane Beryl has some fed-up and frustrated residents taking out their anger on repair workers who are trying to restore power across the city.

The threats and confrontations have prompted police escorts, charges in at least two cases, and pleas from authorities and local officials to leave the linemen alone so they can work.

Beryl knocked out power to nearly 3 million people in Texas — with most of those in the Houston area — after making landfall July 8. The Category 1 storm unleashed heavy rain and winds that uprooted trees and damaged homes and businesses along the Texas Coast and parts of Southeast Texas. State authorities have reported 18 deaths from Beryl. In the Houston area, some have been due to heat exposure following the loss of power, according to the medical examiner’s office in Harris County.

As of Tuesday, crews were still working to restore power to some residents.

“Linemen are our friends and are doing their job. Do not threaten them. I understand you’re angry and mad and frustrated, but let’s get through this together,” Mayor John Whitmire said during a news conference on Monday.

Houston police have investigated at least five cases involving threats made to workers and other employees, whether in person or online.

In one of these cases, police arrested Anthony Leonard, 38, charging him with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Authorities allege Leonard on Saturday threw rocks and pointed a gun at a group of CenterPoint Energy workers who were at a staging area.

Leonard remained jailed Tuesday. His attorney did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

CenterPoint CEO Jason Wells said over 100 line workers had to be evacuated from the staging area on Saturday. He said such threats are counterproductive as crews have to be moved to safer areas, delaying their work.

“So many of our fellow Houstonians have addressed this situation with patience and grace. And I want to thank them. But unfortunately, there have been instances where either acts of violence have been threatened or actually committed against our crews that are working this vital restoration. This is unacceptable. The safety of our crews is paramount,” Wells said.

KPRC reported that a charge of making a terroristic threat has been filed against a woman from the Houston suburb of Baytown. The Texas Department of Public Safety alleges the woman made multiple online threats of murder, assault and deadly conduct against employees, including Wells, at CenterPoint’s headquarters in downtown Houston. The woman has not been arrested.

Chief Deputy Mike Lee with the Harris County Sheriff’s Office said his agency has investigated a break-in of a CenterPoint vehicle and three cases where residents refused to let linemen enter their properties.

Ed Allen, business manager for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local Union No. 66, which represents workers at CenterPoint, said in 42 years in this industry, he’s never seen a response like this where workers are being threatened.

Allen said he spoke to one crew that said while they were working in a suburban Houston neighborhood, several men stood across the street from them and held an assault type rifle in a menacing way.

“It is very disheartening to see the community that I’ve worked in and that I’ve dedicated my life to provide electricity to act the way they have during this event,” Allen said.

Crews on Tuesday told Allen they haven’t received any new threats.

“I hope it’s gotten better out there. Part of that I think has a lot to do with the fact that regardless of what anybody thinks, the restoration effort has gone really well,” Allen said.

As of late Tuesday afternoon, CenterPoint reported that less than 82,000 customers remained without power.

On Tuesday, Gov. Greg Abbott sent a letter to CenterPoint demanding information from the company, including what actions it will take to reduce or eliminate power outages during future storms and how it will improve communication with its customers before, during and after a weather event.

“Texans must be able to rely on their energy providers to keep the power flowing, even during hurricane season. It is your responsibility to properly prepare for these foreseen incidents and work tirelessly to restore power as quickly as possible when it is lost. Anything less is unacceptable,” Abbott wrote.

In a statement, CenterPoint said it's addressing Abbott's request and that its work with officials and community leaders to increase the resiliency of the electric grid is essential in "creating and sustaining an environment in Texas where people want to live and build their businesses.”

Harris County Commissioner Adrian Garcia said the threats to CenterPoint workers and out-of-town crews only makes “it harder and longer to get your lights back on.”

“These folks are just here trying to help. Let them do their work and help us and tomorrow will be a better day,” Garcia said.

Energy giant announces deal retail company to bring EV tech to Houston malls

plugging in

Two Houston-area malls will be getting bp's electric vehicle charging technology thanks to a new global collaboration.

The global energy company will be bringing its global EV charging business, bp pulse, to 75 shopping facilities across the country thanks to a partnership with Simon Malls. Two malls in town — The Galleria and Katy Mills Mall — soon see bp's EV charging Gigahubs. The company will install and operate the chargers at the two area sites.

The deal aims to deliver over 900 ultra-fast charging bays that will support most make and model of EVs with the first locations opening to the public in early 2026. Other Texas locations include Grapevine Mills in Grapevine, and Austin’s Barton Creek Square.

“We’re pleased to complete this deal with Simon and expand our ultra-fast charging network footprint in the U.S.,” Richard Bartlett, CEO of bp pulse, says in a news release. “The Simon portfolio aligns with bp pulse’s strategy to deploy ultra-fast charging across the West Coast, East Coast, Sun Belt and Great Lakes, and we are thrilled to team up with Simon so that EV drivers have a range of retail offerings at their impressive destinations.”

Last month, bp pulse opened a EV charging station at its North American headquarters in Houston. The company plans to continue deployment of additional charging points at high-demand spots like major metropolitan areas, bp-owned properties, and airports, according to bp.

“As a committed long term infrastructure player with a global network of EV charging solutions, bp pulse intends to continue to seek and build transformative industry collaborations in real estate required to scale our network and match the demand of current and future EV drivers,” Sujay Sharma, CEO bp pulse Americas, adds.

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This article originally ran on InnovationMap.