Commercial, Demand Management, Energy Procurement, Microgrids, Utilities  -  July 27, 2017

H-E-B installs backup power systems in Houston

A Texas-based grocery retailer announced July 12 its partnership with a local microgrid company to create an on-site natural gas generator system to power its stores when its utility service is down.

The project will initially provide backup power to H-E-B stores in the Houston area, with the hope of eventually expanding to locations throughout the state. The grocery chain contracted with Enchanted Rock Energy through an agreement with Texas Microgrid to provide service to 45 stores in the greater Houston region, according to a news release.

“Our H-E-B Houston area stores experience intermittent power outages,” George Presses, vice president of fuel and energy at H-E-B, said in a statement. “We are in need of a reliable backup power system that will keep our stores up and running without any interruption to our partners, customers or communities due to a weather event or a general, short term grid outage.”

Enchanted Rock’s  “On Demand Electric Reliability” service provides a proprietary natural gas-powered microgrid design to supply the store with the full amount of energy it needs for operations when its normal power grid is not available. The Houston area has experienced instances of utility power going down recently because of flooding, weather conditions, traffic accidents and other disruptions to the power lines.

According to a report by the Houston Chronicle, Enchanted Rock will operate the generators remotely from downtown Houston. The report details the challenges grocery stores and gas stations face dealing with traditional expensive, difficult backup diesel generators to ensure that they can stay up and running when their utility service goes down.

“The very first store we did, we commissioned the generator on a Friday and we had an outage north of seven hours on that Sunday,” Presses told the newspaper. “We're doing it without interruption of store operations, and we're doing it while putting only a little bit of capital at risk.”

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