Top 10 Cleantech Friendly Utilities in the United States

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Below is a list of some of the largest cleantech friendly utilities located within the United States. All these organizations, groups, businesses, and companies have in some way, gone above and beyond the call of duty when it comes to promoting renewable energy and energy efficient standards in their city around the United States.

1) Austin Energy @ Austin, Texas. Austin Energy has been a national leader in clean energy programs and energy conservation. Their GreenChoice Program, which increases the delivery of renewable energy throughout the area has not only provided more than 750 million kWh hours of electricity of residential and commercial buildings, but it has also set a precedence for other companies to follow. Through the work of Austin Energy, Austin, Texas is listed as the top city with the most businesses run 100 percent by clean power. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory has listed the Austin Energy Green Power Program as the first throughout the nation. To increase utilization of renewable energy, Austin Energy offers rebates to customers who install energy saving appliances, such as high efficiency LED lighting.

2) Environmental Business Cluster @ San Jose, California. Nested in California’s Silicon Valley lays an award-winning clean technology incubator – the Environmental Business Cluster. This cleantech cluster offers commercialization support as well as facilities for for-profit clean energy technology companies throughout their early stages of development. It was established in 1994 to assist businesses that are looking to offer a good or service that would create a positive environmental impact. As of 2003, the Environmental Business Cluster has been working alongside numerous emerging energy efficiency and clean energy companies and has created partnerships with the National Renewable Energy Lab and California Energy Commission to offer commercialization services to grant recipients. This cluster manages the largest private program for technology commercialization for start-ups in the clean energy industry throughout the country. A number of companies that have risen as a result of this cluster include ElectraDrive and GreenVolts.

3) General Catalyst Partners @ Boston, Massachusetts. General Catalyst Partners in Boston is a venture capital company that assists entrepreneurs and other innovative companies known for bringing clean technologies to the forefront of the market. They have assisted a number of companies. Sunborne Energy, for example is an early stage business in the process of developing solar thermal power plants. There is also ARC Energy, also known as the Advanced Renewable Energy Company, LLC, which works to development equipment that will support in reducing the cost of LED lighting.

4) Cleantech Group @ San Francisco, California. The Cleantech Group in San Francisco, California means what it says, it is “The world’s leading market research firm focused on cleantech innovation.” The Cleantech Group assists businesses in making necessary decisions in regards to the clean technology market. This company offers insight into energy efficiency, energy storage, smart grid, green transportation services, and water. They assist businesses around the world to become smarter and make better decisions regarding clean technologies. They work with global corporations, entrepreneurs, investors, and governments.

5) NYSERDA @ New York, New York. NYSERDA, which stands for New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, has been instrumental in building a vibrant and strong renewable energy industry throughout the state via programs designed to work alongside those involved in renewable energy and energy efficiency. According to their website, “NYSERDA invests in renewable energy through programs that provide funds to emerging businesses for product and business development, product marketing assistance, incubators or start up industry, and other support.” For example, the New York Energy Smart Program came into being to assist in reducing the impact of switching to renewable energy. Numerous programs are offered for low income renters, homeowners, businesses, complexes, and other buildings to aid in purchasing energy efficient products.

6) Energy Trust @ Portland, Oregon. Energy Trust of Oregon is a nonprofit organization that is devoted to assisting the resident of Oregon in saving energy and utilizing available sources of renewable energy. Energy Trust has worked alongside a number of utilities, including Portland General Electric, NW Natural, and Pacific Power and assisted in millions of dollars in saved energy costs. Energy Trust Oregon strives to create a more sustainable future. These companies are dedicated to aiding customers, residential and commercial, in saving energy and switching to renewable sources of power.

7) MIT Clean Energy Prize @ Cambridge, Massachusetts. MIT understands the need to push for new cleantech solutions to help build a stronger, more energy efficient future. Their MIT Clean Energy Prize is a competition that promotes venture creation and innovation for clean technologies. The objective of the competition is to increase valuable learning opportunities and supply rewards to those who create interesting ventures that demonstrate increasing the affordability and availability of clean energy and reducing a negative impact on the environment. The goal is to offer support to the next generation of cleantech entrepreneurs.

8 ) CleanTECH San Diego @ San Diego, California. Ranking in the Top 10 List of International Cleantech Cluster Organizations in 2010, CleanTECH San Diego today boasts more than 750 companies in its robust clean economy. One of its key partners and regional assets is San Diego Gas & Electric and also makes San Diego the proud keeper of the smartest utility in the nation: SDG&E. For the second straight year, Sempra Energy’s San Diego Gas & Electric is ranked the most intelligent utility in America, according to IDC. SDG&E completed its installation of more than 2 million smart meters across the county. SDG&E is one of the few utilities in the world working with Google Power Meter. CleanTECH San Diego serving as the region’s connective tissue is working towards creating a Smart City San Diego model to repurpose in other regions. By capitalizing on the collaboration with its progressive utility and others, the greater San Diego region is leading by example. As the region’s cleantech market demand and thought leadership advances, CleanTECH San Diego is amassing a vibrant stable of early stage member companies like Viridity Energy, PCN Technology while attracting international brands like General Electric, Honeywell International, Soitec, and Solar Gard.

9) Colorado Cleantech Industry Association @ Denver, Colorado. In 2008 the Colorado Cleantech Industry Association, based in Denver Colorado, was established as a state-based organization to assist in the further promotion of the cleantech industry. It is the only organization within the state that is focused on the clean technology industry. The mission of the cluster has been “to provide advocacy, public policy leadership, development, and education in the cleantech sector.” The CCIA has been responsible for opening the line of communication about cleantech throughout the state, funding the research and development of clean technologies, working alongside different research institutions, creating state wide initiatives, and changing state and federal policy regarding renewable energy and energy efficiency.

10) Advanced Technology Development Center @ Atlanta, Georgia. The Advanced Technology Development Center in Atlanta, Georgia is a start-up accelerator business helping technology entrepreneurs in Georgia build and maintain successful companies. ATDC works alongside VentureLab at Georgia Tech and the Georgia SBIR Assistance Program to aid technology companies throughout the development stages. A number of the technology companies that ATDC has assisted have been in the cleantech sector, including Adonai Laboratories, LLC, a research firm focused on creating sustainable energy systems that will create a renewable energy platform utilized in third world nations, and Hex Solar, which created a device called SolarSphere – it is a fuel-free portable solar turbine generator.

Article by Shawn Lesser & Ben Taube.

Shawn Lesser is Co-founder & Managing Partner of Atlanta-based Watershed Capital Group – an investment bank assisting sustainable fund and companies raise capital, perform acquisitions, and in other strategic financial decisions. . He is also a Co-founder of the GCCA Global Cleantech Cluster Association ”The Global Voice of Cleantech”. He writes for various cleantech publications and is known as the David Letterman of Cleantech for his “Top 10″ series. He can be reached at shawn@watershedcapital.com

Ben Taube currently serves as the Executive Director of the Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance (SEEA) which is a nonprofit headquartered in Atlanta, GA with a mission to deploy energy efficiency across 11 southeast States. The organization is comprised of public and private interests. Ben also serves as the Chair of the Global Cleantech Cluster Association. Mr. Taube has a Bachelors Degree from the University of Memphis and a Masters in Environmental Policy and Management from the University of Denver.

About Author

Walter’s contributions to CleanTechies over the past 4 years have been instrumental in growing the publications social media channels via his ongoing editorial and data driven strategies. He is the founder and managing director of Sunflower Tax, a renewable energy tax and finance consultancy based in San Diego, California. Active in the San Diego clean technology community, participating in events sponsored by CleanTech San Diego, EcoTopics, and Cleantech Open San Diego, Walter has also been a presenter at numerous California Center for Sustainability (CCSE) programs. He currently serves as an adjunct professor at the University of San Diego School of Law where he teaches a course on energy taxation and policy.

  • Matt Lecar

    A fine list of cleantech resources… of course, only of these is actually a utility (Austin).