Cleantech Roundup: Inslee Points Toward Cap and Trade; EnergySavvy Funding

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, who has made combating climate change his signature issue, directed a taskforce to research a state cap-and-trade policy this week. Meanwhile, EnergySavvy collected fresh funding for its energy efficiency software, while early-stage funding for cleantech startups all but dried up in the first quarter. More details:

—Washington Gov. Jay Inslee spent most of last year working with a legislative committee weighing a policy approach for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the state. Now, the governor has put his weight behind a cap-and-trade policy, rather than a carbon tax.

In an executive order (PDF) signed earlier this week, the governor created a Carbon Emissions Reduction Taskforce. It includes representatives of business, labor, government, renewable energy companies, environmental groups, and governments. Inslee instructed it to outline a carbon emissions cap and market mechanism to meet it. The taskforce recommendations will be the basis of legislation Inslee plans to request for consideration by the legislature next year.

Inslee also ordered state agencies to work with utilities on eliminating the use of coal-fired electricity; support electric transportation systems and clean fuels; develop and deploy renewable energy and efficiency technologies; and update state emissions limits.

A cap-and-trade plan is likely to face stiff opposition. Earlier this year, an Olympia lobbyist told a meeting of the Washington Clean Technology Alliance that such a policy would “single-handedly coalesce the entire industrial sector” against it.

EnergySavvy, the Seattle-based maker of software for managing utility and state energy efficiency programs, is raising $7 million in a Series C round led by Prelude Ventures, with participation from existing investor Pivotal Investments. Prelude managing director Tim Woodward is joining EnergySavvy’s board. EnergySavvy says it now has 24 customers.

The new funding will support product development, sales, and marketing, and will result in a doubling the company’s current staff of 43 employees, mainly located in offices in the Seattle and Boston areas. The company, founded in 2008, will have raised about $12 million on completion of this funding round.

—The first quarter of 2014 saw another year-over-year decline in cleantech funding nationally, and only one first-time investment made, according to the Cleantech MoneyTree Report from PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association. There were 33 investments totaling $357 million made in cleantech companies in the first quarter. That’s a decrease of 42 percent in deals and 7 percent in capital invested from the year-earlier period, according to the report, based on Thomson Reuters data. It’s also a marked contrast to overall venture capital activity, which was up 57 percent year-over-year in the first quarter. PwC notes that early stage investment in cleantech—a broad swath of companies in industries including agriculture and bioproducts, energy efficiency, smart grid and energy storage, transportation, water and waste management, and renewable energy—has “largely evaporated” with only one first-time investment for an undisclosed amount made in the quarter.

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