Enchanted Rock specializes in electrical-resiliency-as-a-service for sectors such as health care, manufacturing, and government infrastructure. Photo via enchantedrock.com

A Houston-based provider of electric microgrids has scooped up a $2.1 million grant from the California Energy Commission for development of technology aimed at reducing greenhouse gasses and other natural gas emissions.

Enchanted Rock shares the grant with the University of California Riverside, or UCR.

“This is an exciting opportunity to further advance the potential use of hydrogen fuel blends for commercialization and market adoption,” Thomas McAndrew, founder and CEO of Enchanted Rock, says in a news release. “We believe in using the cleanest fuel available without compromising on reliability or performance for our customers and are dedicated to helping California, and the nation, achieve its climate and energy goals.”

The use of a hydrogen and natural gas blend for fueling generators shows promise for reducing emissions and improving efficiency, according to Enchanted Rock. The company says the funding will enable it to identify the ideal blend of natural gas and hydrogen for operating a natural generator while improving performance and minimizing emissions.

As part of the grant, UCR’s College of Engineering-Center for Environmental Research and Technology (CE-CERT) will play a key role in measuring emissions and combustion performance. Meanwhile, Palomar College in San Marcos, California, will host a field demonstration site.

”Hydrogen is one of the ‘low-hanging fruit’ solutions to decarbonize our transportation system and other sectors where emissions are hard to abate, and it can serve as a zero-carbon green fuel for internal combustion off-road and highway engines,” says UCR professor Georgios Karavalakis.

Founded in 2006, Enchanted Rock specializes in electrical-resiliency-as-a-service for sectors such as health care, manufacturing, and government infrastructure. The company’s dual-purpose microgrids rely on natural gas and renewable natural gas to produce lower carbon emissions and air pollutants than diesel generators.

In December, Enchanted Rock said it had teamed up with U.S. Energy to supply renewable natural gas for Microsoft’s new data center in San Jose, California, during grid outages and when businesses are directed to reduce power usage.

A carbon neutral data center back-up grid is coming soon to Microsoft — thanks to tech from a Houston company. Photo by Christina Morillo/Pexels

Houston energy resiliency company collaborates on carbon-neutral grid project for Microsoft data center

sustainable support

Microsoft is one step closer to its goals of being carbon negative by 2030 thanks to a new initiative involving a Houston energy company.

Houston-based Enchanted Rock has teamed up to provide its electrical resiliency-as-a-service and ultra-low-emission generators to Microsoft’s new data center in San Jose, California.

Along with Wisconsin-based U.S. Energy, a vertically integrated energy solutions provider, the partnership will procure renewable natural gas for the data center during grid outages and when California’s Base Interruptible Power is activated. Previously, Microsoft announced its plans for carbon neutrality by 2030.

“Enchanted Rock has always been committed to using the cleanest fuel available without compromising on reliability for our customers,” Thomas McAndrew, founder and CEO of Enchanted Rock, says in a news release. “After announcing our renewable natural gas solution in 2021 and this particular Microsoft data center project in 2022, we’re proud to be taking this important next step toward seeing this key technology in operation."

Enchanted Rock, founded in 2006, provides microgrid technology that use natural gas and renewable natural gas, providing for lower emissions and pollution than diesel generators. The company also provides a software platform, GraniteEcosystem, for users for constant management, analytics, and more.

The RNG for the will be delivered by U.S. Energy and sourced from diverted food waste. Per the release, the agreement allows for flexibility in the amount of RNG supplied, which is scheduled to begin being procured by early 2026, so that the initiative will meet its evolving standards for emissions reduction.

“Energy resilience is crucial with data centers like this one,” president of U.S. Energy, Mike Koel, says in the release. “Through our portfolio of 40 renewable natural gas projects, we’re able to ensure our customers have the supply needed to meet any additionality requirements. As we continue to grow our portfolio, our partnership with Enchanted Rock will help more organizations take that next step in their carbon reduction goals.”

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ExxonMobil's $60B acquisition gets FTC clearance — with one condition

M&A moves

ExxonMobil's $60 billion deal to buy Pioneer Natural Resources on Thursday received clearance from the Federal Trade Commission, but the former CEO of Pioneer was barred from joining the new company's board of directors.

The FTC said Thursday that Scott Sheffield, who founded Pioneer in 1997, colluded with OPEC and OPEC+ to potentially raise crude oil prices. Sheffield retired from the company in 2016, but he returned as president and CEO in 2019, served as CEO from 2021 to 2023, and continues to serve on the board. Since Jan. 1, he has served as special adviser to the company’s chief executive.

“Through public statements, text messages, in-person meetings, WhatsApp conversations and other communications while at Pioneer, Sheffield sought to align oil production across the Permian Basin in West Texas and New Mexico with OPEC+,” according to the FTC. It proposed a consent order that Exxon won't appoint any Pioneer employee, with a few exceptions, to its board.

Dallas-based Pioneer said in a statement it disagreed with the allegations but would not impede closing of the merger, which was announced in October 2023.

“Sheffield and Pioneer believe that the FTC’s complaint reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of the U.S. and global oil markets and misreads the nature and intent of Mr. Sheffield’s actions,” the company said.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said it was “disappointing that FTC is making the same mistake they made 25 years ago when I warned about the Exxon and Mobil merger in 1999.”

Schumer and 22 other Democratic senators had urged the FTC to investigate the deal and a separate merger between Chevron and Hess, saying they could lead to higher prices, hurt competition and force families to pay more at the pump.

The deal with Pioneer vastly expands Exxon’s presence in the Permian Basin, a huge oilfield that straddles the border between Texas and New Mexico. Pioneer’s more than 850,000 net acres in the Midland Basin will be combined with Exxon’s 570,000 net acres in the Delaware and Midland Basin, nearly contiguous fields that will allow the combined company to trim costs.

ExxonMobil revs up EV pilot in Permian Basin

seeing green

ExxonMobil has upgraded its Permian Basin fleet of trucks with sustainability in mind.

The Houston-headquartered company announced a new pilot program last week, rolling out 10 new all-electric pickup trucks at its Cowboy Central Delivery Point in southeast New Mexico. It's the first time the company has used EVs in any of its upstream sites, including the Permian Basin.

“We expect these EV trucks will require less maintenance, which will help reduce cost, while also contributing to our plan to achieve net zero Scope 1 and 2 emissions in our Permian operations by 2030," Kartik Garg, ExxonMobil's New Mexico production manager, says in a news release.

ExxonMobil has already deployed EV trucks at its facilities in Baytown, Beaumont, and Baton Rouge, but the Permian Basin, which accounts for about half of ExxonMobil's total U.S. oil production, is a larger site. The company reports that "a typical vehicle there can log 30,000 miles a year."

The EV rollout comes after the company announced last year that it plans to be a major supplier of lithium for EV battery technology.

At the end of last year, ExxonMobil increased its financial commitment to implementing more sustainable solutions. The company reported that it is pursuing more than $20 billion of lower-emissions opportunities through 2027.

Cowboys and the EVs of the Permian Basin | ExxonMobilyoutu.be