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Investment news from Total and Energy Investors Funds

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Total invests in Gevo

Total, the French oil and gas group, is investing in Gevo, the Denver advanced biofuels company.

Gevo, engaged in “developing and commercializing” renewable hydrocarbon technology for the refining and chemical industries, said Total has invested in the company’s ‘series D’ investment offering. The amount of Total’s investment was not disclosed.

Gevo says in an April 27 press release it s “commercializing technology for the cost effective production of renewable, fungible hydrocarbons” such as gasoline blendstocks, renewable jet fuel and renewable diesel blendstocks. In addition to fuels, Gevo says its technology enables the production of a wide variety of chemicals and plastics such as polyacrylates and PETE from renewable resources.

“To have one of the world’s largest oil and gas companies invest in Gevo is significant validation of the potential of our technology and products,” said Patrick Gruber, Gevo’s CEO. He said Total joins an investment syndicate roster that includes Khosla Ventures, Virgin Green Fund, Burrill & Company, and Malaysian Life Sciences Capital Fund.

Jean-Michel Gires, Total’s Senior Vice-President Sustainable Development and Environment, said, “We are very pleased with this opportunity to contribute to next steps of Gevo’s development, with its promising bio-fuels and chemicals intermediates platform produced from renewable resources.” Gires is also president of Total Energy Venture International.

Gevo’s commercialization approach includes retro-fitting existing ethanol facilities to produce hydrocarbon products readily used in the refining and chemical industry. Later this summer, Gevo will bring a 1 million gallon per year semi-works plant in St. Joseph, Missouri on line and start developing its customer base for the commercial facility scheduled to come on line in early 2011.


EIF takes over Watertown Renewable Power

Energy Investors Funds, a Boston-based private equity fund manager that invests in the U.S. energy and electric power sector, said its United States Power Fund III, L.P. acquired Watertown Renewable Power LLC, a 30-megawatt biomass power project currently under development in Watertown, Conn. from Tamarack Energy Inc.

As usual in deals of this sort, the financial details and terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Lucas Missong, an EIF vice president, said the project “provides a new source of clean electricity in a state with limited renewable resources.

“We believe investments in renewable power projects such as WRP will generate a solid return on investment for our investors as well as help our nation become less dependent on fossil fuels for the creation of electricity.”

Once completed, WRP will be capable of generating enough clean electricity to power roughly 30,000 area homes. The plant will run on small tree branches, stumps, old cargo pallets and trees taken down as part of forestry management programs.

Tamarack launched the Watertown project more than two years ago. Since then, the WRP team has secured numerous local zoning, air and wetlands permits and guided the project through a rigorous state siting process. As a successful applicant to Connecticut’s Project 150 program, WRP was able to negotiate an agreement with Connecticut Light & Power for the purchase of energy from the plant.

EIF was founded in 1987 as the first private equity fund manager dedicated exclusively to the independent power and electric utility industry. The firm says it has mobilized more than $3.4 billion in capital raised in seven funds, and currently manages four private equity funds from its offices in Boston, New York, and San Francisco.

These funds have made more than 100 diversified investments with a combined underlying asset value exceeding $7 billion, it adds. EIF controls 4,000 MW of operating power assets with another 2,200 MW of power assets under development or construction.

EIF has made numerous investments in the clean power sector, including investments in 16 hydroelectric facilities and a portfolio of 19 landfill gas-fired facilities across the United States. The landfill projects turn waste methane into electricity and pipeline-quality renewable natural gas.

The firm also owns or is funding the development of biomass projects in New England, California and Florida as well as a geothermal project in Nevada. The company has also invested in California-based Solar Power Partners, Inc., a leading national solar energy services provider. In addition, EIF owns 70 percent of the Detroit Resource Recovery Facility, an electric power generation and steam facility fueled by municipal refuse.

“We found that a number of well-funded investment groups were interested in discussing the purchase of the Watertown project,” said Tamarack Project Manager Mark Mirabito.  “EIF emerged as the successful buyer because of their significant experience in raising capital for clean energy projects.  EIF is ideally positioned to lead WRP to a rapid and successful completion.”

In January Tamarack’s parent company, Haley & Aldrich Inc. decided to exit the renewable energy development business: As of April 6, the operations of Tamarack ceased.

EIF said it expects that some project management staff from Tamarack will remain active in the development of the WRP project. Nearly two-dozen jobs will be created at the plant. Another 100 workers will be needed to harvest, process, and transport the wood fuel material to the project site and hundreds of construction jobs will also be created during the 24-month period building the plant.

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Written by William DiBenedetto

30 April, 2009 at 12:59 pm

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