Clean Tech Economy
Clean Technology Investors Show Faith in Industry Despite Economy

Efrain Viscarolasaga
Mass High Tech Business News
October 24, 2008

Clean energy is fastest-growing sector in Mass. [August 9, 2007]
More Search ResultsOver the past few weeks, the silver lining in the dark clouds
of the economy has shown tinges of green. Despite a severe downturn in
technology investing both nationally and locally in the third quarter, many
industry insiders in the clean-tech industry remain optimistic, occasionally in
the face of snickering from Internet-company counterparts (who held the same
kind of attitude during the dot-com implosion earlier this decade).

While I have not heard anyone claim that green technologies are
“recession-proof” (commonly heard in the early stages of the last downturn in
the technology sector), a highly unscientific poll of local players in the
clean-tech industry reveals an unwavering faith in the direction of alternative
energy and green technology. The greater technology industry may be stalled,
they say, but the value proposition of bringing clean (and profitable) energy to
the world has gained enough critical mass to keep the momentum rolling, if even
slowly for the time being.

Last week, the Washington, D.C.-based Social Investment Forum, a national
association for the social investment industry, released data from an online
survey supporting the unwavering clean-tech optimists, claiming interest in
clean technology from the investment community remains strong.

The 500-member organization surveyed only 14 of its members, though it scoured a
cross-section which included banks, venture capital firms, credit unions,
financial planners, pension funds and other purveyors of investment vehicles.
According to the report, all of the respondents said demand for clean-tech
investments continues to rise, with 72 percent claiming they are either in the
process of, or planning to launch new such opportunities before the end of 2009,
meaning that 10 new vehicles could hit the streets in the next year or so.

Such investment vehicles include mutual funds that focus exclusively on
clean-tech opportunities. According to the report, the assets reported for such
vehicles are in excess of $250 million.

A handful of clean-tech mutual funds have been on the market for some time,
including the New Alternatives Fund (launched in 1982), the Calvert Global
Alternative Energy Fund (2007), and two funds — the Winslow Green Growth Fund
(2001) and the Winslow Green Solutions Fund (2007) — from Winslow Management Co.
in Milwaukee. But the Social Investment Forum indicates that these types of
funds are coming into their own and, despite the economic downturn, are expected
to continue to grow.

Two packets from the cache

• The opening of Patriot Place in late August was the backdrop for one of the
more successful mobile marketing campaigns from a local outfit this summer.
Mobile mashup software maker 211(me) Inc. of Marlborough partnered with Showcase
Live, the entertainment venue at the new Patriot Place in Foxborough to find an
opening act for comedian Dave Attell at the venue’s opening in August.

Launched one week before the selection, 211(me) was asked to develop a mobile
contest using text voting to find a suitable performer. According to the folks
at 211(me), the benchmark of finding 20 comedians and receiving 2,000 votes was
shattered by virally attracting 100 comedians, who were able to generate 23,000
votes over the course of a week.

For good measure, the contest was won by Braintree-born comedian Nick Stevens,
who’s foul-mouthed, football-obsessed character Paul ‘Fitzy’ Fitzgerald is a
blogger on all things related to New England sports at townienews.com.

• Newton-based wind developer First Wind, which filed for a proposed $450
million initial public offering in August, has received approval for its
proposed 300-megawatt Milford Wind Corridor project in Utah.

The approval, from the U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management,
comes after the agency performed an environmental assessment for the project and
granted a “finding of no significance.” The finding is the first under the
agency’s Wind Energy Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for the western
U.S., which provides an objective and public environmental assessment of the
proposed wind farms.

First Wind has amassed a portfolio of wind projects across the country
representing 92 megawatts of power in operation and 182 megawatts under
construction. The company has set a goal of reaching approximately 1,100
megawatts of operating capacity by the end of 2010, and 2,300 megawatts by 2013.


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