Green

On the GreenBeat: GridPoint nearing IPO, smart meters win in PG&E and Oncor disputes

Smart grid company GridPoint is nearing a public stock offering, possibly beating Silver Spring  to the IPO punch, speculates the Washington Business Journal. The article notes that GridPoint has raised $220 million from venture capital and needs to show a payoff soon for its investors. The company has also done well in the marketplace, winning a $28.7 million contract with the Postal Service, making several acquisitions and hiring executives who have IPO experience.

PG&E smart meters vindicated, but the utilities company is criticized for poor customer service. An audit of Pacific Gas & Electric released yesterday reported there were no technical flaws with its smart meters, devices designed to track electrical usage more closely than conventional meters and connect to networked infrastructure. The finding ended an investigation triggered by nearly 1,400 complaints from irate customers who said the new meters were causing them to be overcharged. Though the meters got a pass, the report dinged PG&E for shoddy service, pointing to confusing billing structures and poor consumer education on the new meters.

And in related news, earlier this week, Texas utility company Oncor celebrated the dismissal of a class-action lawsuit by smart meter customers who also claimed the meters misread their energy usage. In both cases, investigators said the meters were installed before a wave of extreme temperatures caused energy consumption to spike in homes.

Facebook to Greenpeace: Our data center will “get greener over time.” After Greenpeace asked Facebook to reconsider its new data center in Oregon because it would use coal-powered energy, Facebook spokesman  Barry Schnitt said the climate in Oregon would “minimize our overall carbon footprint” since there wouldn’t be a need to operate chillers and the like. He also noted that the utility company, Pacific Power, plans to increase their renewable energy usage, meaning Facebook will get greener as Oregon does. Greenpeace has yet to issue a response.

Biofuels driving “land grab” in Africa. Reuters reports that foreign firms have acquired at least 19,300 square miles of arable land in 11 countries to farm biofuels crops such as sugar cane and palm oil. Critics have said the biofuels crops could take away land from communities who need it to grow food –setting up potential conflicts– and also bemoan potential rainforest destruction.

Agribusiness companies Monsanto and Bunge announced today they will invest $3 million in to commercialize agricultural and energy innovations. Both companies are partnering with Nidus Investment Partners, which seeks collaboration for companies and entrepreneurs. This partnership, which a handful of other companies may join, aims to bring laboratory technology to the market faster — items of interest include biofuels, carbon capture and other alternative energies.“The partners have the right of first offer at market price for these technologies, but we anticipate many will move into start-up opportunities and into the market,” said Vicki Gonzales, managing partner of Nidus.

Former GE exec joins Coda as CFO. Earlier this week, Mark Jamieson joined the team at Coda, which is making an all-electric sedan set to compete with the likes of spent at GE Industrial Systems, where he rose to CFO. The company also announced yesterday its plans to roll out the sedan in eco-friendly Hawaii by 2011. the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt. Jamieson brings 35 years of experience to the table, with 30 of them spent at GE.