The new microgrid will be built on ViVa Center, a campus that was originally developed for Compaq. Photo via vivaversesolutions.com

Two companies are teaming up to build a natural gas microgrid in Houston that will reduce emissions by 98 percent.

Provider of prime and backup power solutions RPower has teamed up with Houston’s ViVaVerse Solutions to build a 17-megawatt (MW) microgrid at the ViVa Center campus in Houston, which is expected to be commissioned by the end of the year.

The microgrid plans to employ ultra-low emissions and natural gas generators to deliver Resiliency-as-a-Service (RaaS), and this will connect to ViVaVerse's colocation data center operations during utility outages.

RPower will also deploy the microgrid across different ERCOT market programs, which will contribute to assist with essential capacity and ancillary services for the local grid. ERCOT has increased its use of renewable energy in recent years, but still has faced criticism for unstable conditions. The microgrids can potentially assist ERCOT, and also help cut back on emissions.

“RPower's pioneering microgrid will not only deliver essential N+1 resiliency to our data center operations but will also contribute to the local community by supplying necessary capacity during peak demand periods when the electric grid is strained,” Eduardo Morales, CEO of ViVaVerse Solutions and Morales Capital Group, says in a news release.

ViVaVerse Solutions will be converting the former Compaq Computer/HPE headquarters Campus into an innovative technology hub called the ViVa Center, which will host the High-Performance Computing Data Center, and spaces dedicated to mission critical infrastructure and technical facilities . The hub will host 200 data labs.

“We are thrilled to partner with ViVaVerse to deploy this `first of its kind' microgrid solution in the data center space,” Jeff Starcher, CEO of RPower, adds. “Our natural gas backup generation system delivers the same reliability and performance as traditional diesel systems, but with a 98 percent reduction in emissions. Further, the RPower system provides critical grid services and will respond to the volatility of renewable generation, further enabling the energy transition to a carbon free future.”

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Houston energy company celebrates new innovation center in Belgium

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A Houston-based global leader of innovative chemistries strengthened its research and development capabilities by opening a new international innovation center.

Huntsman Corp. celebrated the opening of the new R&D center in Tienen, Belgium, on June 13.

The 11,000-square-meter facility is a world-scale analytical laboratory; two machine halls; and fully equipped and automated product testing facilities. According to the company, the facility will assist with the “journey from the formulation of initial ideas at lab scale through to the manufacture of novel systems and samples ready for customers to trial.”

The innovation center will house more than 100 scientists from the company's polyurethanes and performance products. In key markets, which include adhesives, coatings and sealants; automotive; elastomers; energy; furniture and bedding, and insulation, will support the application of Huntsman technologies. The polyurethanes division is a global leader in MDI-based polyurethanes, which serves more than 3,000 customers in over 90 countries worldwide.

The inauguration event on June 13 was attended by more than 100 customers, suppliers, the mayor of Tienen and business partners. The event also included presentations from Huntsman's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Peter Huntsman, and Tony Hankins, President of Huntsman's polyurethane business.

"Today marks a significant milestone as we officially open the doors to our new European innovation center, a facility dedicated to creativity, collaboration and progress," Huntsman says in a news release. "We already have a rich legacy of innovation in Belgium. This center reflects our continuing commitment to exploring new ideas and turning imaginative concepts into practical solutions that can make a positive impact in the world."

Houston-based energy companies hailed best places to work by U.S. News

Top cos.

More than a dozen Houston-based companies are sharing the spotlight in U.S. News and World Report's collection of the "Best Companies to Work For" in 2024-2025, including several of the Bayou City’s energy companies.

The annual report examines publicly-traded companies around the world to determine the best employers based on six metrics including work-life balance and flexibility; quality of pay and benefits; job and company stability; career opportunities and professional development; and more. The companies were not ranked, but included based on reader surveys and publicly available data about each workplace.

New for the 2024-2025 report, U.S. News analyzed 549 companies across 29 different lists, including the overall best companies list — which includes the best 300 companies across the U.S., the United Kingdom, Ireland, Switzerland, Luxembourg, and Bermuda — 24 industry-specific lists, and four regional lists.

There were 16 total companies based around Houston that made the lists, with the majority being based in the city, while one each were located in Spring and The Woodlands.

Independent energy company Marathon Oil was the top-rated Houston energy employer, with nearly 1,700 employees, an annual revenue stream of $6.38 billion, and a $15.4 billion market cap. The company was specifically highlighted with a "Top Quality of Pay" label, but also boasts high ratings for its employees' work-life balance, job stability, and belongingness.

In addition to being included in the overall "Best Companies" list, Marathon Oil earned recognition in the industry-specific "Best in Energy" list and the "Best Companies in the South" list.

A second Houston-based energy company earning a spot among the top employers is Occidental (also known as Oxy). The petroleum corporation, which has been in operation since 1920, has nearly 12,600 employees and brings in $27,43 billion in revenue every year.

According to U.S. News, Occidental offers many financial, health and wellness, and workplace benefits including 401k matching, tuition assistance, an employee assistance program, flexible work arrangements, and much more. The company was also given a "Top Quality of Pay" designation.

Occidental appeared in U.S. News' "Best in Mining and Raw Materials," the overall "Best Companies," and "Best Companies in the South" lists.

The other top energy employers include:

  • Southwestern Energy Company, Spring – Best in Energy; Best Companies (overall); Best Companies in the South
  • ConocoPhillips – Best in Energy, Best Companies in the South
  • Cheniere – Best in Energy
  • EOG Resources – Best in Energy
  • Murphy Oil Corporation – Best in Energy

"Prospective and current employees understand the significant impact their employer has on their quality of life," said Carly Chase, vice president of careers at U.S. News and World Report, in a release. "Whether a new grad seeking a company to launch their career, an established professional looking for a change or an HR professional researching the strengths of their company and others, Best Companies to Work For provides a central space to see which companies are meeting their employees' needs best.
The full list of the best companies to work for can be found at usnews.com

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

Houston solar co. names new exec, Houston energy transition events not to miss, and what to know this week

taking notes

Editor's note: Dive headfirst into the new week with three quick things to catch up on in Houston's energy transition.


Events not to miss

Put these Houston-area energy-related events on your calendar.

  • Hydrogen Tech Expo is taking place June 26 to June 27 at NRG Center. Register now.
  • 2024 Young Leaders Institute: Renewable Energy and Climate Solutions is taking place July 15 to July 19 at Asia Society of Texas. Register now.
  • CCS/Decarbonization Project Development, Finance and Investment, taking place July 23 to 25, is the deepest dive into the economic and regulatory factors driving the success of the CCS/CCUS project development landscape. Register now.
  • The 5th Texas Energy Forum 2024, organized by U.S. Energy Stream, will take place on August 21 and 22 at the Petroleum Club of Houston. Register now.

Elon Musk's big payout

Even though the median U.S. CEO pay package last year was nearly 200 times more than a worker in the middle of their company pay scales, Texas-based Elon Musk's record-setting Tesla compensation dwarfs them by comparison.

Tesla shareholders last week voted overwhelmingly in favor of restoring Musk's 10-year pay plan, valued by the company in April at $44.9 billion. It was worth more early in the year, but Tesla's stock value has fallen about 25% since then.

No matter the outcome, Musk's package — the largest award to a CEO of a U.S. public company — is far above what's been granted to other chief executives. Here's how the package compares.

Houston solar energy company names new C-level leadership

Houston’s Sunnova Energy has named a new member to its C suite.

Eric Williams has been appointed executive vice president and CFO of Sunnova, an industry-leading adaptive energy services company. He brings 20 years of experience with 13 years in the energy industry to the company.

Williams replaces Robert Lane. Lane served as Sunnova's executive vice president and CFO from May 2019 to June 2024.

“I was drawn to Sunnova by its commitment to power energy independence and make clean energy more accessible, reliable, and affordable for homeowners and businesses,” Williams says in a news release. “Building on its unique accomplishments and strong history as an industry leader, I am confident in Sunnova’s ability to create value for all stakeholders and realize its vision for a clean energy future. Read more.