Megadeals for Solar-Thermal

Two titan power companies, Pacific Gas & Electric and Florida Power & Light, said Wednesday evening they are teaming up with startup Ausra to build large-scale solar-thermal plants.

More details were revealed Thursday at the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting, where the three said they will commit, in total, to building about 2,000 megawatts of solar-thermal.

Earlier this month, Palo Alto, Calif.,-based Ausra officially came out of stealth mode when it announced it had raised $40 million from high-profile venture-capital firms Khosla Ventures and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (see Ausra Raises $40M for Concentrating Solar-Thermal).

The company is working on technology that makes electricity using the sun's heat, unlike traditional solar-photovoltaic technology that converts sunlight into electricity.

While solar-thermal power holds the potential to deliver a far cheaper form of solar power to utilities, it's been limited to small demonstration plants so far. Thursday's announcement no doubt boosts confidence in the technology's future.

Guiding Ausra's next steps will be incoming CEO Robert Fishman. Fishman will be jumping ship from the troubled bulletin-board-traded power company Calpine, where he was power-operations executive vice president (see Ausra Poaches CEO From Calpine and Q&A: Ausra's Incoming Head Honcho).

212 Cleans Up: $250M

It's a dirty job, but 212 Resources now has the capital to do it. The company on Thursday raised $250 million in credit from GE Energy Financial Services. The Midway, Utah,-based company separates wastewater from oil and natural-gas production and recycles it, producing clean water and methanol, among other things.

The financing was a "credit facility," which operates like debt financing. The company will use the money to build equipment and service water-treatment contracts, then repay the debt out of the revenue from the contracts, said Matt Horton, a principal at venture-capital firm @Ventures, which invested in 212.

"We believe that the technology is significant because for the first time, oil and gas producers can cost-effectively purify and reuse the wastewater that they have traditionally had to dispose of in environmentally harmful ways," he said.

Demand and Get a $17M Response

Energy-management company ConsumerPowerline said Thursday it closed $17 million in its first round of financing.

Expansion Capital Partners led the funding. Bessemer Venture Partners, Schneider Electric Ventures and Vantania Holdings also contributed.

New York-based ConsumerPowerline said it will use the money to expand its offerings, which include demand response and smart metering technologies.

Demand response allows utilities to avoid blackouts by paying customers to use less power when the electric grid is squeezed, while smart metering helps utilities charge different rates for different times of the day.

Part of ConsumerPowerline's allure is that company customers pay no up-front costs for the technology. ConsumerPowerline fronts the price of the metering and monitoring equipment installed at customers' sites, and customers get access to energy data and a cut of the money earned from megawatt sales. For more details on the company, check out Checks for Demand-Response,

The Kyoto Investment Plan

A new ecoinvestor has come on to the green scene. Kyoto Planet Financial announced its existence Thursday.

The Canada-based firm is made up of two groups: Kyoto Planet Asset Management, which works with investors one-on-one, and Kyoto Planet Capital Partners, which invests in renewable-energy and clean-technology companies.

Investments will include public and private companies working on renewable energy and clean technology.

Kyoto Planet Financial also said it has a strong social and environmental mandate and, to prove it, will provide one-third of net profits to fund nonprofit initiatives.

Solar Power 2007 Ends

The Solar Power 2007 conference in Long Beach, Calif., ended Thursday. Conference organizers said 9,500 participants had registered by midday Thursday, with another 3,000 attending on public night Tuesday, when the exhibition doors were opened to the public for free.

The conference had expected more than 10,000 attendees. Organizers stopped accepting registrations for the conference sessions last week, although registrations for the exhibit hall remained open. Fire codes kept some would-be listeners from entering the keynote session Tuesday (see In Brief: Solar Power 2007 Fills Up).