Microgrids keep shops open in hurricane-hit Houston

Supermarkets in hurricane-hit Houston, Texas are open this week thanks to natural gas-powered microgrids installed during the past year, local media report.

Backup power firm Enchanted Rock’s July 2016 deal with the H-E-B supermarket chain saw 18 stores equipped with microgrids. Last week, as Hurricane Harvey buffeted the city, Enchanted Rock disconnected these stores from the grid and switched the microgrids to island mode.

Under the firm’s business model, Enchanted Rock owns, operates and maintains the on-site power source and the customer pays for its gas use and service fees.

For the H-E-B stores, the gas-fired gensetsà‚ (pictured) are fuelled through underground pipelines which have not been damaged by the high winds and widespread flooding in the city.à‚ 

Enchanted Rock CEO Thomas McAndrew told the San Antonio Business Journal that the hurricane has served as “proof of concept” for his firm’s microgrid technology.

A spokeswoman for H-E-B told the newspaper that some of the 18 stores reported as open had closed during the worst parts of the storm, but were able to keep their refrigerators on.

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