City of Houston Northeast Water Purification Plant

An independent energy system provides greater operational reliability during grid outage periods while delivering financial and environmental benefits.

Water supply, treatment, and wastewater professionals know how critical it is to maintain facility operations during natural and manmade emergencies. Nowadays, they must continue to deliver safe drinking water and protect public health while facing a greater occurrence of severe weather events, increasing power outages due to an aging electric grid, and potential cybersecurity and physical security threats.

Therefore, new contingency strategies and technologies are becoming the new normal in facility design. The City of Houston needed to address these concerns when it started investigating a power resiliency solution for its Northeast Water Purification Plant (NEWPP) expansion, which will add 320 mgd by 2024 to the existing water plant’s capacity. The project will allow the city and regional water authorities to meet projected water demands while fulfilling requirements set by the Harris-Galveston and Fort Bend Subsidence Districts, resulting in a shift from historical groundwater usage to a predominant reliance on surface water.


The city selected a managed power resiliency microgrid from Enchanted Rock, a Houston-based company that has reinvented how organizations ensure power resiliency for their operations. The microgrid ensures full compliance with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality regulatory requirements for water treatment facilities and provides greater operational reliability during maintenance and grid outage periods than traditional backup power supplies. Because the microgrid will be powered by natural gas, which is provided through a robust, underground infrastructure, the system can run indefinitely despite above ground conditions. This feature is critical in Houston’s storm-prone region.

According to Wood Mackenzie, an energy research and consultancy business, NEWPP’s microgrid will be the largest supporting a water plant in the country once it has been completed in 2022. The 30-MW microgrid will provide facility backup power for 100% of NEWPP’s finished water production capacity during outages. In addition, selecting a managed service allows NEWPP to receive power at a fraction of the cost of a standard backup system.


According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, there were 14 climate and weather events in 2019, generating $1 billion or more in damage. Crisis-proofing operations before the next event, whether it’s a wildfire, severe weather event, or grid failure, requires proactive business continuity planning and resilient, mission-critical support—especially when it comes to power systems. In the past, electricity consumers have been forced to resort to diesel backup generators that are expensive and harmful to the environment. Microgrids are a more attractive, cleaner, and less-expensive alternative to address long-term outages when downtime isn’t an option.

But today’s microgrids are much more than just a backup power generator. They are smart assets, leveraging data analytics to automatically operate when needed without human intervention. Network operation centers continuously monitor performance, and intelligent software can mine data for operational patterns as well as respond programmatically and efficiently. More than just a collection of energy resources, a microgrid can island and operate autonomously, carrying full power load for a local facility when the power is down. Microgrids also complement the broader grid by supplementing grid capacity during times of high demand or intermittent supply.


Enchanted Rock’s dual-purpose microgrids have a proven record of supplying power during the most adverse conditions. During the 2021 Winter Storm Uri in Texas, millions of utility customers lost electricity when power plants across the state were knocked offline due to record low temperatures and amounts of snow. Enchanted Rock microgrids supplied continuous power to 143 of its customers’ sites that experienced grid outages and were protected for a total of 4,984 outage hours over eight days. Beyond maintaining power and offering 24-7 support to its customers, the microgrids were able to supply capacity aid to the main power grid.

Enchanted Rock’s multitiered partner program offers utility companies behind-the-scenes, full-service support. Depending on the partner program level, Enchanted Rock will support technical sales efforts as well as design, construct, operate, and maintain all microgrid operations. The company’s natural gas microgrids are on average 50% less expensive than traditional diesel generators when coupled with grid support services. In addition, Enchanted Rock’s natural gas microgrids provide a 99% cleaner option to traditional diesel backup generators.

Enchanted Rock’s clean microgrid technology, 24-7 support services, and flexible pricing options result in fast, simple, and worry-free protection from extended grid outages. The company’s highly customizable solutions, backed by skilled energy personnel, result in low-risk, predictable energy resiliency when utilities need it most. For more information about Enchanted Rock and its utility partner program, visit [Enchanted Rock Partner Program].

Example: The data center industry continues to meet society’s increased demand for constant connectivity, content delivery, and myriad business and personal necessities. As the data center industry expands, whether in traditional facilities or at the edge, leaders seek ways to deploy better, more resilient mission-critical operations, including power systems. Meanwhile, severe weather events, cybersecurity threats, and aging equipment strain the electric grid.

In this special report, we’ll explore:

  • Why microgrid use is on the rise and how microgrids improve resiliency, uptime, and a data center’s environmental profile.
  • Microgrids’ economic value and the different purchasing models that can adapt to your facility’s needs.
  • Demonstrate how microgrids fundamentally change power delivery for primary and even edge users.
  • Real-world examples of microgrids in action.

In an environment where downtime is not an option, microgrids are a proven technology that allows data centers to adapt to the changing landscape of our new digital reality.

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