The Cynthia & George Mitchell Foundation awarded Pecan Street Inc. a $40,000 grant to bring its unique data and research capabilities to developing a Distributed Energy Resources Toolkit for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Pecan Street will partner with Huston-Tillotson University in Austin to develop resources that support DER deployment on HBCU campuses to provide new revenue opportunities and support community resilience centers. The effort will produce an online DER planning and implementation toolkit geared toward the unique aspects of Texas HBCUs and technical support resources.
“HBCUs are under-leveraged community centers of excellence and are at risk of being left behind in the clean energy economy,” said Dr. Karen Magid, Huston-Tillotson University Director of Sustainability and STEM. “The DER planning and implementation toolkit is critical to document best practices specifically for HBCUs to support us in a manner that benefits the entire institution, including students, faculty, staff, and surrounding communities.”
Pecan Street aims to ensure the benefits of DERs are equitably accessible by leveraging the unique opportunity HBCUs provide for bridging the racial divide in access to clean energy resources and energy resiliency. The toolkit will help HBCUs establish robust microgrids that can provide grid support services, participate in ancillary service markets, and provide community resiliency centers in majority-Black neighborhoods. These DERs can also provide new economic opportunities for universities through participation in utility programs, such as commercial demand response and ancillary services markets while serving as career development opportunities for students.
“On campuses, DERs can reduce energy costs, increase the efficiency of buildings, generate revenue, and serve as a platform for clean energy career development and research,” said Pecan Street CEO Suzanne Russo. “Our partnership with Huston-Tillotson University will support HBCUs in leading the way on development of this important and exciting market.”
The toolkit is one of the first projects of Pecan Street’s Center for Race, Energy & Climate Justice launched in May 2021. The center will focus its first-year 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.