Enchanted Rock, a Texas-based microgrid company, today announced a deal with the City of Houston to build the largest microgrid yet for a water pumping plant.
The 30-MW microgrid will serve the city’s Northeast Water Purification Plant (NEWPP) Expansion facility, a new project scheduled to be completed in spring 2022.
The Houston project marks the second microgrid Enchanted Rock announced this summer for a water facility. The other is a 2.4 MW project for the North Fort Bend Water Authority.
The announcements follow heightened interest in microgrids, driven by several recent major power outages, among them the rolling blackouts in California, Iowa’s derecho that left 75,000 still without power one week later, and outages from Tropical Storm Isaias in the Northeast and Hurricane Hanna in Texas.
“Almost every day there’s something in the news about power outages,” said Allan Schurr, chief commercial officer for Enchanted Rock. “Throw COVID on top of all of this, and it’s really a challenge for a lot of people, a lot of organizations. “
Schurr said he is seeing growing attention to power interruptions in risk management and business continuity preparation.
“Eventually I think microgrids will become the new standard for resiliency services offered by developers like us, offered directly to end customers, offered through utilities, community choice aggregators, and others to deliver that higher level of reliability that is just a basic necessity in today’s economy,” he said. “Nobody wants any power outages — that’s the new standard. It’s not how many we can accept each year. I want none.”
Enchanted Rock, which uses an energy-as-a-service model, will install its natural gas-fired microgrid to provide backup for 100% of the Houston pumping plant’s finished water production requirements.
The company’s microgrids are characterized by their ability to provide grid services when they are not in use as backup power. The financial transitions help Enchanted Rock offset microgrid costs.
“The City of Houston evaluated several companies and selected Enchanted Rock for this project based on technical requirements, performance of past projects, and competitive pricing,” said Ravi Kaleyatodi, project director, NEWPP Expansion Project, City of Houston.
Wood Mackenzie determined that the microgrid will be the largest in the US for a water pumping facility after reviewing 3,389 planned and operational microgrid projects that the research firm tracks.
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