Pecan Street developing distributed energy adoption toolkit for HBCUs

The Cynthia & George Mitchell Foundation has established Pecan Street Inc. awarded a $40,000 grant to leverage its unique data and research capabilities to develop a Distributed Energy Resources Toolkit for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Pecan Street partners with Huston-Tillotson University in Austin to develop resources that support the deployment of DER on HBCU campuses to provide new revenue opportunities and support centers for community resilience. The effort will result in an online DER planning and implementation toolkit focusing on the unique aspects of Texas HBCUs and technical support resources.

“HBCUs are community centers of excellence that are underutilized and at risk of being left behind in the clean energy economy,” said Dr. Karen Magid, director of Sustainability and STEM at Huston-Tillotson University. “The DER planning and implementation toolkit is critical to documenting best practices specific to HBCUs to support us in a way that benefits the entire institution, including students, faculty, staff and surrounding communities.”

Pecan Street is committed to ensuring that the benefits of DERs are fairly accessible by leveraging the unique opportunity HBCUs provide to bridge the racial divide in access to clean energy sources and energy resilience. The toolkit will help HBCUs establish robust microgrids that can deliver network support services, participate in support services markets and provide community recovery centers in predominantly black neighborhoods. These DERs can also provide universities with new economic opportunities by participating in utility programs, such as commercial demand response markets and support services, while serving as career development opportunities for students.

“On campuses, DERs can reduce energy costs, increase building efficiency, generate revenue and serve as a platform for career development and clean energy research,” said Suzanne Russo, CEO of Pecan Street. “Our partnership with Huston-Tillotson University will support HBCUs to lead the development of this important and exciting market.”

The toolkit is one of Pecan Street’s first projects Center for Race, Energy & Climate Justice launched in May 2021. The center will focus its freshman research on establishing a framework for developing equitable energy policies, identifying research gaps in racial justice and equitable policy design, and expanding Pecan Street’s research network within communities of color.

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