Catalyze has teamed up with Cushman & Wakefield to expand installation of solar panels and battery storage technology. Photo courtesy of Catalyze

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.

Texas's evolving energy landscape means affordability for residents, a new report finds. Photo via Pexels

Here's how Texas ranks when it comes to energy affordability

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The Lone Star State is an economical option when it comes to energy costs, one report has found.

WalletHub, a personal finance website, analyzed energy affordability across the 50 states in its new report, Energy Costs by State in 2024, which looked at residential energy types: electricity, natural gas, motor fuel and home heating oil.

Texas ranked as the fourth cheapest state for energy, or No. 47 in the report that sorted by most expensive average monthly energy bill. Texans' average energy cost per month is $437, the report found.


Source: WalletHub

Here's how Texas ranked in key categories, with No. 1 being the most expensive and No. 50 being the cheapest:

  • No. 27 – price of electricity
  • No. 15 – price of natural gas
  • No. 44 – natural-gas consumption per consumer
  • No. 40 – price of motor fuel
  • No. 16 – motor-fuel consumption per driver
  • No. 49 – home heating-oil consumption per consumer

With the most expensive state — Wyoming — being over four times the cost compared to the cheapest state — New Mexico, the difference between energy costs between states varies greatly, but the reason for that isn't exactly a mystery.

“Energy prices vary from state to state based on several factors including energy sources, supply and demand, energy regulation, regulatory authorities, competition, and the free market," explains expert Justin Perryman, a professor at Washington University School of Law. "[States] such as Texas have a deregulated electricity marketplace. Missouri and 17 other states have a regulated energy market. In deregulated markets there are typically more energy providers which often leads to more competition and lower prices; however, other factors can contribute to energy prices.

"In regulated markets, the state energy regulatory authority sets the prices of energy," he continues. "It can be politically unpopular to raise energy costs, so those states may benefit from lower energy costs. Factors such as the state’s commitment to renewable energy may also factor into energy costs. Proximity to less expensive energy sources can lower energy costs.”

Texas's evolving energy landscape has been well documented, and earlier this year the state's solar energy generation surpassed the output by coal, according to a report from the Institute For Energy Economics and Financial Analysis.

A separate report found that, when compared to other states, Texas will account for the biggest share of new utility-scale solar capacity and new battery storage capacity in 2024. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the state will make up 35 percent of new utility-scale solar capacity in the U.S. this year.

Daikin is the world’s leading air conditioning and refrigeration company, with its US headquarters and North America manufacturing facility based in Waller, Texas. Photo via htxenergytransition.org

Visiting Daikin: Houston energy transition innovation is the heart of operations

the view from HETI

In the energy capital of the world, we often think and talk about the energy transition and low carbon solutions in the context of energy production and distribution – whether it’s adding more renewables to the grid, reducing the CO2 emissions of our existing energy resources with CCUS and Hydrogen, developing energy storage technology to manage intermittency, or deploying other innovative solutions designed to produce or deliver more energy with fewer emissions – Houston is leading on all fronts.

But these aren’t the only solutions needed as we seek to solve one of the most challenging issues of our time. We cannot focus only on innovating the production and distribution of energy. As the demand for energy grows, locally and globally, we must also think innovatively about reducing the demand for energy, while still maintaining, and improving, quality of life. I had the opportunity recently to visit a company that is doing just that, right here in the Houston region.

Daikin is the world’s leading air conditioning and refrigeration company, with their US headquarters and North America manufacturing facility based right here, just 30 minutes northwest of downtown Houston in Waller, Texas. The Daikin Texas Technology Park, a 4.2 million ft2 facility, equal to 74 football fields, is dedicated to developing, manufacturing and marketing innovative solutions for meeting its customers’ needs while also reducing the energy required to keep people cool. Currently, air conditioning accounts for around 10% of global electricity consumption, with rapid demand growth expected in the future. As electrification becomes a key pathway to the decarbonization of various industries, demand for low-carbon power will continue to grow.

Achieving an affordable, reliable, and low-carbon future will require innovation across the entire energy value chain – from production to consumption, and, as the world’s leading air conditioning manufacturer, Daikin, is leading the way in developing innovative solutions to achieve optimum comfort and energy savings.

Three things struck me during my recent visit to the Daikin Texas Technology Park (DTTP):

  1. Innovation is at the heart of their operation. The integration of engineering and manufacturing in a single location facilitates collaboration and product innovation and accelerates implementation. The LEED Gold Certified facility was also innovatively designed to maximize energy efficiency and minimize environmental impact.
  2. People are a priority. The diversity of the 8000+ employees working at the DTTP was incredible. During the visit, we had the opportunity to see team members from many different backgrounds and with various skills and education working in all parts of their operation. They also offer a STEM scholarship program in partnership with the Waller Area Chamber of Commerce.
  3. They are environmentally focused. Daikin is fully committed to providing energy solutions that improve quality of life while also reducing environmental impact through improved efficiency. The heating and air conditioning products manufactured at the DTTP are some of the most innovative and energy efficient products on the market today – producing a more even temperature and offering as much as a 30% reduction in energy use compared to standard AC systems, all with a considerably smaller footprint.

As someone who spends a great deal of time thinking about the pathways to solving the global dual challenge of more energy with fewer emissions, much of my time is spent learning about innovations on the supply side of energy. It is exciting to learn that there is just as much innovation happening on the demand side of energy – and to see it happening right here in Houston.

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This article was written by Jane Stricker, executive director and senior vice president of theGreater Houston Partnership's Houston Energy Transition Initiative and originally ran on the HETI blog. HETI exists to support Houston's future as an energy leader. For more information about the Houston Energy Transition Initiative, EnergyCapitalHTX's presenting sponsor, visit htxenergytransition.org.

To learn more about Daikin’s entire line of innovative heating and air conditioning products and how they are Perfecting the Air, visit the Daikin global website.

Empact’s goal is to help energy companies maximize the tax credits for their clean energy projects. Photo courtesy of Empact

Houston software company equips green project developers with IRA compliance tools

Tax credits, anyone?

A Houston company has an update to its first-of-its-kind software to assist emerging technology and energy companies with Inflation Reduction Act Energy Community Bonus Credit compliance management and reporting requirements for renewable energy projects.

Empact Technologies has released a software update that incorporates support for the latest IRA Energy Community Bonus management and reporting requirements. The new software is provided at no additional cost to existing Empact clients, and is available to qualified communities through a free trial via Empact’s website.

Empact’s goal is to help energy companies maximize the tax credits for their clean energy projects.

“Empact is the first (and only) company that provides technology and services to help the project developers qualify for and ensure compliance with all of those IRA tax incentive compliance requirements,“ CEO Charles Dauber tells EnergyCapital. “We work with project developers of solar, energy storage, carbon capture and sequestration, and other projects in ERCOT and around the country to manage compliance for the PWA, domestic content, and energy community compliance requirements and make sure they have all of the documentation required to prove to the IRS that these tax credits are valid.”

The software is the first in the industry to incorporate the most recent energy community guidelines released by the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service, known as Notice 2024-48. These guidelines outline Energy Community Bonus qualification requirements for the “Statistical Area Category” and the “Coal Closure Category” in Notice 2023-29.

Empact’s platform will provide tax incentive compliance management for all three types of credits, which will be covered in the IRA’s estimated $1.2 trillion in tax incentives. The credits include a base energy project tax incentive (30 percent) for projects that meet prevailing wage and apprenticeship requirements, a domestic content tax adder (10 percent), and an energy community tax adder (10 percent). Notice 2024-48 is able to be used by developers to confirm project qualification for Energy Community Bonus opportunities.

Empact will support clients on eligibility requirements, manage compliance documentation and verification requirements.

“The IRA is considered the greatest and biggest accelerator for clean energy in the U.S.,” Dauber says. “The IRA provides significant tax incentives for developers of solar, energy storage, wind and other clean power technologies, as well as energy transition projects such as carbon capture and sequestration, hydrogen, biofuels and more.”

According to Empact, the way the IRA works is that developers of projects can “generate” tax credits based on meeting certain project requirements. There are three main factors in play:

  1. The foundational element of the tax credits provides a 30 percent tax credit of the project cost if the project meets requirements related to ensuring a fair wage for construction workers and utilizing a certain amount of apprentices on the project (called Prevailing Wage anƒ Apprenticeship). The project developer (all the EPC and all contractors) must provide documentation that every worker has been paid correctly and that all apprenticeship requirements have been met. Some projects have hundreds of workers from 10-plus contractors every week.
  2. The second tax credit relates to the project utilizing steel and iron and other “manufactured products” such as solar modules, that are made in the U.S. If the project meets the “domestic content” requirements, it is eligible for another 10 percent tax credit. Project developers have to prove the products they use are made in the U.S. and there are calculations that must be done to meet the threshold that goes up every year.
  3. The third tax credit is related to the location of the project. The government is trying to incentivize project developers to put projects in locations with high-unemployment, or sites that have existing power generation facilities, or are in areas that used to be coal communities. That tax incentive is called “Energy Communities” and provides an additional 10 percent tax credit for the project developers. To qualify for that tax credit, the developer must provide proof that the project is located in an energy community location.

Companies using the software and being in appropriate compliance can see immediate benefits, and the energy industry working towards a cleaner future, will see the impact of Empact as well.

“If a developer does this all correctly, they can qualify for tax credits equal to 50 percent of the cost of the project which is an enormous benefit to getting more projects built and encouraging a balanced energy program in the U.S.” Dauber says. “For example, a 100MW solar farm may cost $100 million, and if they meet all of the criteria, they can qualify for $50 million in tax incentives. The same calculations work for carbon capture, hydrogen and other projects as well although there are some slight differences.

Last August, Stella Energy Solutions, a utility-scale solar and storage developer, entered into a multi-year agreement with Empact to use the platform to manage Stella's IRA tax incentives on all its projects for the next five years.

The two projects are in Wharton County and Bell County and will add renewable energy to the Texas energy grid. Photo via Pexels

Packaging producer procures power purchase plan with Texas solar projects

powering on

A leading provider of sustainable fiber-based paper and packaging solutions is supporting the first of two Texas-based solar projects.

WestRock set the stage by entering into virtual power purchase agreements with Houston-based ENGIE North America. The two projects are in Wharton County and Bell County and will add renewable energy to the Texas energy grid.

Bernard Creek Solar is the first of two solar projects that are part of the VPPAs between WestRock and ENGIE, and is currently operating southwest of Houston in Wharton County. WestRock contracted 207 megawatts from the project Under the VPPA. The 230 megawatts Bernard Creek solar project is projected to produce approximately 500,000 megawatts an hour annually, which will generate over $45 million in revenue for the county and create more than 250 jobs during construction.

The WestRock VPPA for the Bernard Creek project, and the similar project located in Bell County, will add a total of 282 megawatts of renewable energy to the Texas energy grid.

"We are delighted that Bernard Creek Solar is supporting WestRock’s ambitions to meet its 2030 science-based targets,” Dave Carroll, chief renewables officer at ENGIE, says in a news release. “North AmericaENGIE’s projects are focused on meeting the specific needs of our clients as we work together to accelerate the energy transition in North America, and this agreement reflects that."

The VPPAs with WestRock have contributed to ENGIE to surpass more than 1 gigawatt of signed power purchases. ENGIE is recognized as the top developer to sell corporate energy PPAs and has ranked in the top three since 2019 with a total corporate PPA portfolio in the USA of 7.3 according to BloombergNEF's latest Market Outlook report. Schneider Electric’s Sustainability Business provided the advisory services and strategy management for these pivotal VPPAs with WestRock.

"We are pleased to play a role in the production of clean energy from large-scale solar projects and to join forces with ENGIE and Schneider Electric to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by adding more renewable energy to the grid,” David B. Sewell, president and CEO at WestRock, adds.

PV Hardware USA has opened its new $30 million facility in the Houston area. Photo courtesy of PVH

Houston solar manufacturer opens new 50,000-square-foot facility

new to hou

A Houston-area solar tracker manufacturer opened its new manufacturing facilities last week. The $30 million project is dedicated to manufacturing solar structures and trackers in part of the country’s goal to expand solar power generation infrastructure.

PV Hardware USA cut the ribbon on the new facility on May 30 in Houston. The new, 50,000-square-foot facility is one of America’s largest, according to the company.

“With the opening of this factory in Houston, PVH USA is affirming its unwavering commitment to solar energy development in the United States,” PVH CEO Emilio García says in a news release. “Our Houston operation will be a key player in the development of utility-scale solar energy across America, and we look forward to driving progress as a leading solar tracker manufacturer.”

PV Hardware USA cut the ribbon on the new facility on May 30 in Houston. Photo courtesy of PVH

The facility aims to provide custom-built solar tracking systems for new solar generation projects, which is expected to be a lead source of growth in the U.S. energy power sector. Solar power generation is projected to increase from 95 Gigawatts (GW) of total generating capacity to 131 GW in 2024, and then climb to 174 GW by 2025 according to U.S. Energy Information Administration.

The new Houston factory will employ more than 120 local workers, and is part of a larger mission to bring jobs, and increased awareness to renewable energy efforts.

“We are committed to powering the solar revolution with U.S. manufacturing and workers,” Garcia adds in the release. “The incentives provided through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act are a tremendous opportunity to promote domestic manufacturing and support local communities. PVH USA aims to contribute to job creation and economic growth while bolstering the nation's renewable energy infrastructure.”

The new 50,000-square-foot facility is one of America’s largest, according to the company. Photo courtesy of PVH

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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.

4 Houston energy companies pledge financial support in wake of Hurricane Beryl

donation station

Four major energy companies in the Houston area have chipped in more than $400,000 to support relief efforts for Hurricane Beryl in Southeast Texas. Nationwide, it’s estimated that the storm caused at least $28 billion in damage and economic losses.

Here’s a breakdown of contributions announced by the four energy companies.

Baker Hughes Foundation

The Baker Hughes Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Houston-based energy technology company Baker Hughes, gave a $75,000 grant to the Houston chapter of the American Red Cross for Hurricane Beryl relief efforts.

“We understand recovery and rebuilding can take weeks or months, and we support the American Red Cross’ mission of providing people with clean water, safe shelter, and food when they need them most,” says Lorenzo Simonelli, chairman and CEO of Baker Hughes.

CenterPoint Energy

Houston-based CenterPoint Energy, which at one point had more than 2 million customers without power due to Hurricane Beryl, says its foundation has donated to several disaster relief organizations in the region. These include the American Red Cross of Coastal Bend, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, Combined Arms, and the 4B Disaster Response Network in Brazoria and Galveston counties.

As of July 11, the company had also provided:

  • More than 30,000 bottles of water to cooling centers and distribution centers in the Houston area.
  • Meals to local first responders.
  • Mobile power generation at cooling centers, hospitals, senior living centers, and water treatment plants.

CenterPoint didn’t assign a dollar value to its contributions.

“Our first priority is getting the lights back on. At the same time, we have seen firsthand the devastation our neighbors are facing, and our commitment to the community goes beyond restoration efforts,” says Lynnae Wilson, senior vice president of CenterPoint’s electric business.

ConocoPhillips

Houston-based ConocoPhillips contributed $200,000 to relief efforts for Hurricane Beryl. The company also is matching donations from U.S. employees of ConocoPhillips.

The money is being split among the Houston Food Bank, Salvation Army and American Red Cross.

“Houston is our hometown, and many of our employees and neighbors have been impacted by Hurricane Beryl,” says Ryan Lance, chairman and CEO of ConocoPhillip.

Entergy Texas

Entergy Texas, based in The Woodlands, donated $125,000 to the American Red Cross for Hurricane Beryl relief efforts. The money will go toward emergency needs such as food, shelter, and medical care.

“Our commitment to helping communities in distress remains unwavering, and we are hopeful that our contribution will offer relief and comfort to those facing hardships in the storm’s aftermath,” says Eliecer Viamontes, president and CEO of Entergy Texas.

Entergy Texas supplies electricity to about 512,000 customers in 27 counties. It’s a subsidiary of New Orleans-based Entergy Corp.