Citi Backs Water Management

HydroPoint Data Systems, a water-management company, said Tuesday it raised "a material investment" from Citi's Sustainable Development Investments. The company didn't release a ballpark figure, but said the funding was an add-on to the $19-million Series-B round HydroPoint raised in January. Investors in the first part of the round included RockPort Capital Partners and Chrysalix Energy Venture Capital.

Citi, a large financial-services company, in May announced it would invest $50 billion over the next 10 years to address climate change. In a press statement, Gisele Everett, a director at Sustainable Development Investments, said Hydropoint is "a perfect example" of a company that can deliver both compelling financial gains and proven environmental benefits.

The Petaluma-based company sells a water-management system, called WeatherTRAK, made up of irrigation controllers that use satellite data and weather-predicting software to help calculate the amount of water plants need. HydroPoint, founded in 2002, claims its system saves water - about 1 billion gallons this year - as well as money, and reduces water runoff.

The system enables customers to manage the controllers from a central server, so they can decide which plants to water less in times of drought, and also could give water agencies the ability to manage water in times of high demand, CEO Chris Spain said earlier this year.

PG&E Hopes to Put Power Outages on Ice

Ice Energy, a startup that uses ice to reduce electricity use during times of highest demand, said Tuesday it has been selected to participate in an initiative by San Francisco-based utility Pacific Gas and Electric Co. As part of the "Shift and Save" initiative, the utility will offer upfront rebates and annual incentives for customers who add Ice Energy's Ice Bear system to their air-conditioning equipment.

The Windsor, Colo.,-based startup's system freezes water at night, when electricity is more abundant and less costly. Then, when temperatures rise during the day, the system circulates refrigerant through coils in the ice and then uses that refrigerant in the building's regular air-conditioning system to cool the building.

Ice Energy claims its system reduces air-conditioning-related energy demand by 95 percent during peak hours, when electricity is cheapest. The company in May raised a $25-million Series-A round of funding from Goldman Sachs, Good Energies, Second Avenue Partners and Sail Venture Partners.

SunTechnics Brings Solar Water-Heating to Businesses

Solar water-heating is not just for pools and showers anymore. SunTechnics, a subsidiary of large solar company Conergy, on Monday introduced a new solar-thermal collector, the F4000, to provide hot water and space heating for business and government buildings.

The company claims its new collector is more efficient, in both hot and cold climates, than its competitors' and can cut companies' water bills by up to 70 percent, bringing a return on investment in five to seven years.

Hamburg-based SunTechnics in May bought Aztec Solar, a California-based installer of solar hot-water and pool-heating systems. The acquisition, along with the latest announcement, is a sign that the long-tepid solar water-heating market might finally be heating up.

It doesn't hurt that California is now considering the largest solar water-heating incentive in the country (see California Solar Water Incentive, Take 2). But solar water-heating still makes up a tiny part of the market and will have to overcome a bad reputation from a failed incentive program in the 1980s.