Houston receives $2M grant to install solar panels, upgrade buildings – San Antonio Express-News

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Houston has received $2 million from the U.S. Department of Energy to advance its sustainable energy goals, which Mayor John Whitmire has yet to define for his new administration.

The federal department announced Wednesday that it has selected Houston as one of 27 local governments to receive energy grants totaling $27 million. Port Arthur and Temple are the other two Texan cities on the list. The two smaller towns secured more moderate amounts of $118,760 and $140,420, respectively. 

The $2 million was allocated to Houston to support four key green energy initiatives: installing solar panels and battery storage at a municipal facility, upgrading municipal buildings to lower energy consumption, creating a loan fund for sustainability projects and revising energy codes to enhance efficiency in future developments.

“Energy efficient upgrades are a surefire way to bring down costs and shore up resiliency for communities across the nation,” U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm said in a Wednesday statement. “President Biden’s Investing in America agenda is equipping local governments with funds to transform clean energy plans into real actions.”

The goal of the award is to help Houston advance its existing Climate Action Plan, according to the announcement. The plan, unveiled by former Mayor Sylvester Turner in 2020, consists of a series of long-range goals to curb greenhouse gas emissions and combat the adverse effects of climate change.

The new mayor has not yet articulated his stance on Houston’s current climate action targets or his administration’s environmental goals. His office recently said Whitmire is in the process of reviewing all of the city’s big-picture projects and priorities, but has not responded to a Wednesday request to comment on the latest grant.

Whitmire vowed to prioritize environmental justice during his mayoral campaign last year. He promised to leverage his decades-long experience in Austin to work with state environmental regulators on issues like illegal dumping while being cautious not to alienate the energy industry.

In March, the mayor announced the creation of a new City Council committee – the Resilience Committee – to delve into Houston’s environmental policies. Its first meeting is scheduled for next Tuesday, where officials are expected to offer an update on the city’s Climate Action Plan and Resilience Plan.

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