Reliant Puts Historic Sixth Ward Block on the Smart Grid

Mayor Annise Parker and TV home improvement expert Bob Vila were among the dignitaries present as Reliant unveiled the latest phase of its smart grid technology rollout. It's retrofitted a block in Houston's historic Sixth Ward as part of what it calls Reliant Innovation Avenue.

The Holm House
The Holm House, 2111 State Street (Built in 1893, Listed in National Register of Historic Places); one of the houses retrofitted as part of Reliant Innovation Avenue


The twenty-one hundred block in Houston’s Sixth Ward is distinctive enough on sight. Four-year-old houses stand face-to-face with Folk Victorians from the 1890s.  But for five months, Reliant has been installing everything from home energy monitors and smart refrigerators to old-fashioned weather stripping on doors.

Today was the block’s day to shine. Mayor Parker officially declared October 11th Innovation Avenue Day in Houston.

“Some of my friends from the Sixth Ward know that I am an avid preservationist. I live in my own historic money pit (laughter), and I actually, with some partners, own a few here in this neighborhood, so I understand the challenges of making historic properties more energy efficient.”

As an example of those challenges, Reliant had to insure the solar panels it installed on some of the houses were mounted completely out of public view. But the end result was more than enough to win the endorsement of the dean of home renovation, Bob Vila.

Bob Vila
Bob Vila

“For thirty years, what I’ve been promoting is conservation, preservation of old houses, green building, and appreciating the resources that we have, and now there’s this real exciting interest in building green all over the country, both at the commercial and the residential level.”

The company plans to continue retrofitting the houses over the next few months. Homeowners Michelle Dugan and Douglas Shoemaker.

“They’re going to put insulation in our attic. We just didn’t want to do that, have the attic open in August in Houston. So we’ll do that when it gets cooler, and have a radiant barrier put up and more insulation. I think it’ll be interesting comparison this summer, which was especially brutal, to next summer when we’re all set up.”


Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew heads Houston Public Media’s coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas delegations in the U.S. House and Senate, as well as the Texas governorship, the state legislature, and county and city governments. Before taking up his current post, Andrew...

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