$10M from GE and Current Investors Plus Federal Stimulus Incentives Propel Southwest Windpower’s Expansion in Small Wind Turbines
Flagstaff, Ariz. — One month after the adoption of federal tax credits to propel small wind energy growth in the United States, GE (NYSE: GE) is joining current investors to provide $10 million to the world’s largest manufacturer of small wind turbines, Southwest Windpower. Southwest Windpower – designer and producer of small wind turbines up to 3 kW—will use this new funding to accelerate its growth in new markets and products. Other current investors that participated are Altira; Rockport Capital Partners; NGP Energy Technology Partners; and CTTV Investments LLC, the venture capital arm of Chevron Technology Ventures.
“Renewable energy is a critical component of the world’s energy mix, and small, more affordable wind energy will be a key new energy alternative,” said Frank Greco, CEO of Southwest Windpower, based in Flagstaff. “This new capital funding will allow us to expand our markets, helping to bring cost-effective small wind energy to new residential, commercial, and off-grid customers.”
The company did not publicly break down the investment amount for each firm participating in the funding round, the capital for which will help Southwest Windpower develop new markets, grow its sales offices in Europe, and expand in Asia. The funds also will help expand the company’s product line to develop even more efficient wind systems. Southwest Windpower has grown 3.5 times in annual sales volume over the last 4-year period at a Compound Annual Growth Rate of nearly 37%.
Much of the growth will center on the market expansion and continued enhancement of Skystream, a residential-scale wind generator that produces electricity up to 60 percent cheaper than retail electricity, bringing renewable energy options to residential consumers and commercial outlets. Skystream’s unique plug-and-play design allows the user to connect directly to the electric grid. For a residential home, Skystream can provide anywhere from 40 – 90% of the home’s electricity, depending on their consumption and wind resource. Southwest Windpower is developing new applications for the Skystream system, including commercial uses such as powering light poles for parking lots or municipalities and multiple unit installations for remote electrification.
“The new federal stimulus incentives and the company’s product performance improvements enable Southwest Windpower to offer renewable electricity at attractive rates in different regions of the country,” said Kevin Skillern, managing director and leader of venture capital at GE Energy Financial Services. “In many applications, Southwest Windpower offers the most economic distributed renewable generation technology, and GE is helping the company accelerate adoption of that technology.”
The US economic stabilization and fiscal stimulus laws enacted in late 2008 and early 2009, which allow consumers and small businesses to take a 30% tax credit off the installed cost of a wind turbine, are expected to fuel Southwest Windpower’s continued growth. The American Wind Energy Association predicts the federal incentives, on top of a growing number of state incentives, could help the small-turbine market grow 30-fold in as few as five years.
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