CalCEF Acts to Close the Clean Energy Seed Funding Gap

SAN FRANCISCO, April 11 /PRNewswire/ -- The California Clean Energy Fund (CalCEF) announced today that it has retained Susan Preston to implement its strategy to close the funding gap for promising seed and startup-stage clean energy companies.

CalCEF is a $30 million nonprofit investment fund created to spur investment in California's clean energy economy. Ms. Preston, an expert and author on angel financing, has a background and expertise that complements CalCEF's focus on investments in seed-stage clean energy companies.      Established in 2004 as a result of the PG&E bankruptcy settlement, CalCEF supports companies developing a wide range of clean energy technologies that will bring economic and environmental benefits to California and assist the state in meeting its aggressive clean energy goals.

     Despite significant environmental policy leadership in California and a recent influx of private investment capital aimed at clean energy companies, seed-stage or angel funding continues to lag, creating a gap in the commercialization of new potentially transformational clean energy technologies. Angels principally invest at this earliest stage, placing smaller amounts of funds with young companies, thus partially filling the funding gap between initial founder money and later stage venture capital investments.     

CalCEF Chairman and California Public Utilities Commission President Michael R. Peevey said, "We must make investments today in promising early stage clean energy technologies if we are to position California to meet its world-leading clean energy goals in years to come. CalCEF is playing a critical role in filling the private sector funding gap at this most critical early stage."

     Venture capitalists have embraced the clean energy industry. Clean technology investments rose 78 percent in 2006 to $2.9 billion, compared to $1.6 billion in 2005. Since 1999, venture capitalists have invested more than $11.7 billion in clean tech ventures. This aggressive investment trend is expected to continue. According to the Cleantech Venture Network, the global market for renewable projects alone is projected to be $625 billion in 2010 and $1.9 trillion by 2020. But funding must increase at the seed and start-up stages to support this anticipated growth.

     Ms. Preston has extensive experience in angel financing and angel organizations, and has lectured in North America and Europe on private equity financing at multi-national conferences. In addition, Ms. Preston is author of a highly regarded text on establishment of angel organizations, published by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. Her second book will be released shortly, titled, "Angel Investing for Entrepreneurs," published by Wiley Publishing.      Ms. Preston will work with CalCEF to explore many avenues for promoting angel investing. She will also explore opportunities for collaboration with CalCEF's extensive network of clean energy stakeholders including public and private research labs, universities, utilities and the venture capital community.

     "We are pleased to have Susan join the team to help CalCEF accomplish one of its primary goals of investing in promising seed and startup-stage clean energy technologies," adds Lisa Bicker, President of CalCEF. "She brings unparalleled skills and experience in angel financing as well as financial discipline to the angel investment environment."

About CalCEF      CalCEF is a non-profit public benefit corporation dedicated to making equity investments in clean energy companies. Established via the PG&E bankruptcy settlement, CalCEF was created to deliver positive environmental and economic returns to California by providing an economic engine of growth and environmental improvements. CalCEF targets companies focusing on renewable energy, energy efficiency, energy storage, and other products and services that are designed to enhance the clean energy sector. Profits will be reinvested in further support of CalCEF's mission.      The CalCEF Board of Directors blends public policy makers, investment professionals, entrepreneurs, and science and technology experts. Chaired by Michael R. Peevey, President of the California PUC, the Board also includes California Energy Commissioner Dr. Arthur Rosenfeld; Dr. Mark Levine of Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory; CalISO Chairman Mason Willrich; entrepreneur Tom Jacoby; Ralph Cavanagh of the Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC); JPMorgan managing director Nancy Pfund; and former White House policy official Jonathan Foster. More information: www.calcef.org .