Enchanted Rock to Install Largest Water Pumping Microgrid in US

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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.

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City of Houston Northeast Water Purification Plant (NEWPP) Expansion facility. Courtesy of City of Houston

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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Elisa Wood About Elisa Wood

Elisa Wood is the chief editor of MicrogridKnowledge.com. She has been writing about energy for more than two decades for top industry publications. Her work also has been picked up by CNN, the New York Times, Reuters, the Wall Street Journal Online and the Washington Post.

Comments

  1. Brady Fennell says:

    It’s been said that Texas is the Go Big or Go Home State. Second only to Alaska in geographical size! It looks like Enchanted Rock has literally rocked the RE world with this one. Nice job, Allen . Water processing plants are a great niche market for MicroGrids. Best of luck duplicating this success on a macro level.

  2. ““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.””

    In population dense cities across the U.S., it is technology that allows millions of people crammed into high rises, the best example is New York city to live without drowning in their own waste stream. Micro-grids running waste water treatment plants and powering potable water treatment plants keeps critical services online when a Hurricane or Derecho takes down power for a week. I can also see a need for very large Giga-watt hours of energy storage regionally to help the grid during extreme heat events.

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