Washington State Surpasses California in Funding Start-up Companies

According to the ACORE Renewable Energy in America: Markets, Economic Development and Policy in the 50 States 2011 report released last week, “WA state surpassed CA as the state with the most venture capital and private equity investment over the past two years, funding early stage technologies and companies.”  The report notes that WA was the home of 9 deals totaling $7.5B during the 2009-2010 period.  CA had only $3.5B in 115 deals.

WA had over twice the early stage investment in renewables as CA?  Something smells funny.  So I did some research.  Here is the rest of the story.

Companies that received funding in WA included Hydrovolts ($1M), Infinia ($27M), Tuuss ($2M), Blue Marble ($2M), and Prometheus ($10M and $13M).  (Reports are sometimes not reliable.)  That accounts for $55M of $7.5B (or about a half of a percent of the total).

The largest deal in the ACORE data in WA was the $7.4B acquisition of Puget Energy by a consortium of investors.  To say the least, it is a stretch to call the acquisition of PSE an early stage investment in renewable energy, but it is classified as a wind energy transaction according to Bloomberg Renewable Energy Finance.

So where is WA without the PSE transaction?  Using the ACORE data, WA ranked 8th in the number of deals (8), 13th in total invested ($55M), and 16th in average deal size ($6.9M).  23 states had no renewable investments whatsoever.


J. Thomas Ranken