Venture Capital and Cleantech weekly update

01 Venture Capital and Cleantech weekly update

Vivint Solar, the second largest U.S. residential solar installer, has $540 million for residential solar financing from two unnamed “major financial institutions.” The company secured the funding in addition to $200 million of tax equity financing it raised earlier this year.

Vivint Solar designs, installs, monitors and services photovoltaic systems with no upfront out-of-pocket costs to the homeowner. Through a power purchase agreement (PPA), a homeowner buys the power generated by the solar photovoltaic system at a rate currently lower than they could get from a local utility provider.

Vivint raised tax equity financing to the tune of $200 million in August. Combining it together with the latest round of funding, the company has managed to raise three-quarters of a billion dollars in three months. The company operates at present in California, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Washington, D.C.

“In less than three months, Vivint Solar has raised nearly three-quarters of a billion dollars to finance our solar projects,” said the group’s recently appointed chief executive officer, Greg Butterfield. “These new financings will enable Vivint Solar to continue its unparalleled growth, while delivering simple, affordable solar solutions to our customers.”

 

NRG Energy Inc. (NRG), the largest independent U.S. electricity producer, agreed to buy most of the assets of Edison International (EIX)’s bankrupt Edison Mission Energy for $2.64 billion to expand its coal and wind holdings.

The purchase price consists of about 12.7 million NRG shares with the balance to be paid in cash on hand, NRG said. It includes about $1.06 billion expected to be on hand at Edison Mission on closing, anticipated in the first quarter of 2014.

Edison Mission operates coal-burning plants with a capacity of 4,300 megawatts, and also owns about 1,700 megawatts of wind energy and runs heat-and-power plants at refineries owned by Chevron Corp. It filed for bankruptcy in December because of a collapse in power prices and rising pollution control costs.

This is the latest deal for NRG CEO David Crane, who has been reshaping NRG’s business since he took over in 2003. In December, he closed the purchase of GenOn Energy and its 14,000 MW portfolio to make NRG the largest independent power producer in the US with nearly 100 power plants with 47,000 MW of capacity. Crane has also bought retail electric providers and a demand response company.

 

 

Kior Inc. (KIOR), operator of the first U.S. commercial-scale cellulosic biofuel plant, received commitments for $100 million in financing from Khosla Ventures LLC and Gates Ventures LLC to help finance a second refinery, which would convert wood chips into gasoline and diesel. Kior chief executive Fred Cannon said the company could be cash flow positive in 2015.

Vinod Khosla said in an interview that he will increase his total investment in the company to $125 million and that Gates will invest $15 million. The new investments are a combination of purchases of new common stock and the conversion of existing debt to convertible stock.

 

Abengoa SA (ABGB), a Spanish renewable-energy developer announced it will eventually delist its shares from its home exchange to avoid “structural problems” in Europe’s capital markets, said Chief Executive Officer Manuel Sanchez Ortega.

The company’s ADRs will trade under the symbol ABGB and are each worth five Class B shares. The company will use the proceeds to pay down debt, Ortega said in an interview at the Nasdaq Stock Market, where Abengoa is now trading.

The U.S. has become Abengoa’s biggest market, and trading there will make the company more visible to investors and analysts, Ortega said. He expects to exit the Madrid Stock Exchange “in the next couple of years.”

 

Panoramic Power Ltd., a developer of energy management systems to reduce energy consumption and operating costs in commercial buildings in real time, has raised $8 million in its second financing round. Marker LLC led the round, and was joined by current investors Greylock Partners, Israel Cleantech Ventures Funds, Clal Energy Ltd., and Qualcomm Ventures.

Panoramic Power will use the financing to expand its sales, marketing, and business development efforts to drive partnerships, awareness and new customers. The funds will also be used to accelerate product development in order to keep up with rising customer demand.

Richard Scanlon, Managing Partner of Marker LLC, stated, “Today, many best-in-class companies are improving their top line revenue growth and protecting bottom line cost savings by managing energy costs and improving sustainability. Panoramic Power’s granular level energy management platform meets a pressing need of enterprises to optimize energy consumption and improve operational efficiency. We are thrilled about the company’s accomplishments to date and are confident in its unique ability to capitalize on the global opportunity at hand.”

 

Proterra, a venture backed electric bus company, has raised another $24 million of financing in a Series C round which is said to value the business at almost $200 million.  Proterra will use the proceeds to fund production growth and product development efforts to keep pace with booming demand.

Two utilities, Edison International and Constellation Energy, joined existing backers including GM Ventures, Hennessey Capital Management and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Mitsui Global Investment, Vision Ridge Partners, NMT Capital, and 88 Green Ventures in the funding round, which will be used to help the company double its expected 2013 sales of 40 buses next year.

“One of Edison Energy’s core strategies is investing in the electrification of transportation, and Proterra is an emerging leader in the field” said Bert Valdman, president of Edison Energy and senior vice president of strategic planning for Edison International. “We are pleased to partner with Proterra, a company leading the charge in bringing safe, reliable, electric-drive transit buses to market.”

 

1366 Technologies, a silicon wafer manufacturer, announced that it has secured $15 million in Series C funding, bringing the company’s total amount raised to $62 million. The funds will be used to build a factory that will be able to produce enough silicon wafers for 250 megawatts of solar cells a year

The lead investor is Tokuyama Corp., Japan’s largest producer of ultra-pure silicon and a strategic partner of 1366’s. Returning investors include North Bridge Venture Partners, Polaris Venture Partners, VantagePoint Capital Partners, and Energy Technology Ventures, a joint venture involving General Electric, NRG Energy, and ConocoPhillips, 1366 Technologies said in a press release.

 

EcoFactor Inc., a provider of cloud-based home energy services, has raised $10 million in Series B funding. NRG Energy Inc. led the round, and was joined by return backers Claremont Creek Ventures, RockPort Capital Partners, and Aster Capital. The investment will go towards the development of new services, enhancing EcoFactor’s home energy service, and expanding its engineering and sales staff.

 

ChargePoint, a EV charging network startup, has partnered with Key Equipment Finance, a subsidiary of Key Bank, to launch a $100 million lease-to-own program for EV charging stations, which will give small and medium sized companies and municipalities the opportunity to install EV chargers at no upfront cost.

“Through this program, companies and municipalities can now offer their workforce EV charging for no more than the price of a couple of cups of coffee per day,” said Pasquale Romano, CEO of ChargePoint.

“By providing EV charging to workers, employers are essentially giving their employees a raise of up to 5% as a result of reduced fuel costs. In addition, companies increase productivity, allow their employees HOV lane access, and support important sustainability and environmental policies. This is a win-win-win for employers, employees, and our communities.”

 

VCharge, an energy management developer, received a $1 million convertible bridge note from Orion Equity Partners and Clean Energy Venture Group. The investment was disclosed via a regulatory filing.

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