Officials with Harris County’s Office of Sustainability are anticipating breaking ground by the end of the year on a couple locations, including community centers and libraries across the county, that will serve as a pilot program for solar and alternative energy hubs.

Jesse Dickerman, Office of County Administration chief of staff, told Community Impact that one of Harris County's clean energy strategies is to decrease its reliance on the energy grid and increase its use of alternative energy. He said doing so will allow the county to leverage federal dollars, including incentives such as President Joe Biden's 2023 Inflation Reduction Act that provides governments with tax credits for qualifying renewable energy projects.

"Whether it's a cold snap in the winter or a heatwave in the summer, or hurricane disasters all year round, the solar plus battery backup is a way to start investing in the resilience in some of our locations," Dickerman said.

The big picture

Once the pilot program is complete, it will encompass at least 12-15 chosen sites across the county that will be installed with solar, battery storage and electric vehicle charging stations, officials said.

  • The construction timeline is being projected from 2024-2025 with a target of completing at least six sites per year.
  • Once completed, the sites will be networked together in order to participate in energy grid stability events.

Officials said the goal behind the initiative, called Harris County’s Energy Infrastructure Pilot Program, is so that the sites across the county can provide resilient spaces where the precincts can provide programming in times of emergencies as well as normal operations.

Looking forward

Harris County Commissioners approved the request for proposals at the Jan. 9 meeting. Once contractors' proposals are presented to commissioners at a future court date, cost and timelines for equipment installation will be finalized, officials said.

Dickerman said they're looking at business parters who can help with the clean energy projects in an economic and efficient way.

"We also strongly believe that you can make an economic case for this kind of technology. We'll be monitoring very closely so we can come back to court and say, not only should you spend money here, but this is going to have a positive return for the citizens of Harris County," Dickerman said.