Najafi Companies, a Phoenix-based private investment firm, said this week that it will invest $100 million in a new portfolio company with a cleantech focus. The company, Energy Capital Investments (ECI), will act as an investor to both create and acquire renewable energy technologies, specifically in the areas of solar, geo-thermal and biomass energy production.
Much of ECI’s management comes from National City Energy Capital, an energy financing firm that has financed clean energy in the past.
While the initial investment from Najafi is $100 million, the company will draw on the “considerable capital” available from its principal members. “We’ll look at projects on the commercial level and on the project level,” ECI CEO Clifford Svoboda told us. “We don’t want to limit ourselves.”
This is the first investment in energy Najafi has made. As more players get into clean energy, and cleantech in general, 2008 is looking like it will get even more funding then 2007. Time will tell if the sector becomes overvalued.
Some of ECI’s first deals will be in solar, Svoboda told us. “We did a lot of solar at National [City Energy Capital]. All these guys were involved in doing solar. About the only type of project they weren’t involved with was wind,” he said.
William Garnett, a principal at ECI and former NCEC VP, claims that the newly minted ECI has already hit the ground running. “We’re currently in negotiations in PPAs with governmental entities, both state and local, as well as a number of commercial establishments,” he said. The PPAs are for power from photovoltaic and concentrated solar thermal sources, Garnett said. Svoboda added that he hopes these deals will be completed by the first quarter of next year, at which point they’ll release more details.
ECI also plans to eventually start deevloping some of its own renewable technologies, Svoboda told us, but for now they’re focused on building a diverse portfolio of stable technologies and partnerships. He stressed that ECI is not an investment fund and is therefore not bound by the same constrictions, including shorter time horizons on investments. ECI will likely be one of a growing number of such diversified portfolio companies to come online as the clean energy industry matures.