Strategic Partnerships, Inc.


Stimulus energy funds heat up Texas business opportunities

Mary Scott Nabers - CEO of Strategic Partnerships, Inc.
Houston Business Journal
publication date: 03/26/2010

Millions of dollars in energy efficiency stimulus funds were recently awarded to public entities throughout Texas…and millions more are on the way. Texas fared very well in the federal allocation process.

Governmental entities will soon issue bids for energy-related contract work, but the time to contact decision-makers and get positioned to win the business is now. There will be varied types of opportunities and many will be focused on alternative fuel, traffic signalization, building efficiency and retrofits and solar panels.

Sixteen public entities (15 Texas cities and one county) were selected to receive a total of $6 million for traffic signal projects. This funding will be used by local governments to create or upgrade systems.

An additional 14 entities were selected for $11 million in funding to promote alternative fuel use. The money will be spent to convert conventional fleets and to install alternative refueling stations.

The Comptroller’s State Energy Conservation Office (SECO), which administers the traffic signal and alternative fuel programs, is notifying awardees who will receive $52 million from the Distributed Renewable Energy Technology Program. (To view the recently awarded first-round of these grants totaling $32 million, go to and look under "Recent Reports.")

But wait, there’s more…

SECO is reviewing applications and will award approximately $45.6 million from the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) program. Types of eligible projects under this program include:

  • Building energy audits and retrofits;
  • Installation of distributed energy technologies including combined heat and power and district heating and cooling systems;
  • Installation of energy-efficient traffic signals and street lighting; and
  • Installation of renewable energy technologies on government buildings.

SECO has opened the application period for two additional energy efficiency funding programs: Round II of the Building Efficiency and Retrofit Revolving Loan Program and Public Housing Energy Efficiency Grant Program. Money will begin flowing from these two programs in the near future.

The Building Efficiency and Retrofit Program will make approximately $41 million available to increase energy efficiency in governmental buildings and facilities. The Public Housing Energy Efficiency Grant program will award money to implement the use of new and emerging energy-efficient technologies.

These six programs alone should keep contractors busy for the rest of this year and into 2011.

Immediate energy related opportunities in Texas:

Fort Bend County has an immediate opportunity for a contractor to provide and install 28 outdoor lights with solar panels and battery backup. The retrofit installation of solar-powered exterior lighting upgrades will be executed as a turnkey project by an independent contractor.

Klein ISD will issue an RFP soon for lighting retrofits at various facilities. Existing systems will receive new, high-efficiency lamps and ballasts. Some permanent fixtures will also be replaced.

Texas A&M University has applied to SECO for a $10 million loan for an energy-related project at the main campus. If awarded, the university will contract with a private sector partner to prepare a detailed Utility Audit Report for 12 buildings and five parking garages and will provide engineering design and construction services for a design/build program to complete the retrofits and guarantee energy consumption reductions.

The U.S. Department of Energy awarded Austin Energy $7.5 million in stimulus funding to implement energy conservation measures in city facilities. The city plans to issue several related solicitations, including:

  • A solicitation to retrofit interior lighting systems with new technologies, such as LED and Induction Lighting in parking lots and parking garages;
  • The re-solicitation of an existing contract to install interior lighting upgrades and lighting controls;
  • A new solicitation to increase insulation, seal ducts and building envelope, install weather stripping and other energy improvements; and
  • A new solicitation to optimize performance of energy systems.

North Central Texas Council of Government (NCTCOC) has received funding of $2.5 million from a SECO grant program to help expand the use of alternative-fuel vehicles in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Funding will allow recipients to convert existing vehicles or buy new ones. The funding also covers expansion of existing alternative-fuel refueling stations with natural gas or recharging infrastructure. Cost of the project is approximately $8.1 million.

The City of Bedford was recently awarded $2.32 million in funding for traffic signal synchronization and infrastructure improvements. The city will hire a contractor to develop signal timing plans and monitor improvements at 26 intersections. This project will also include upgrading existing equipment and replacing obsolete equipment and controls.

Mary Scott Nabers is a Contributing Writer for hbj