Energy Efficiency Startups, Can You Find Support Like This From Your State?

June 7, 2014
Energy efficiency startups, can you find support like this from your state? If not, you may want to head out to Oregon, where Indow Windows is thriving.

Energy efficiency startups, maybe you should all head out to Oregon.

In Oregon, one company, Indow Windows, benefitted from state grants that totaled $83,000 and says that Oregon’s Clean Energy Works generated home weatherization projects that helped the company prove its case to investors. And that led to $2.6 million in private capital for Indow Windows, which makes window inserts that reduce energy consumption.

Much of the enthusiastic support for energy efficiency comes from Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber, says Sam Pardue, Indow Windows CEO.

Kitzhaber has proposed a tiered energy plan that aims to meet 100 percent of new load growth through energy efficiency. Meanwhile, Oregon is ranked by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Econony as the fourth most energy efficient state in the nation. And Oregon is home to Clean Energy Works, the largest non-profit provider of home performance upgrades. The state of Oregon just agreed to give CEWO $10 million, which CEWO says will help create 60,000 jobs doing energy upgrades on 600,000 homes.

Such enthusiasm for efficiency first translated into a $75,000 grant from Oregon BEST, and later, an $8,000 grant that benefited Indow Windows.

The grants went to Portland State University, first for a pilot program and later for a study.

“We received a grant from Oregon BEST to do a pilot study to study how much energy is saved when people put our windows into their windows,” explains Pardue. “It was administered by PSU’s green building research labs. The study showed installing Indo Windows will save 20 percent of a building’s heating and cooling load in Oregon.”

That data was critical in taking the product to the marketplace and explaining how effective it can be, he says.

Indow Windows learned that its product appeals most to homeowners with incomes above $50,000 who own homes built before 1950, he says. The next grant, for $8,000, allowed the company to find homes across the country that met those criteria.

“The second grant allowed us to create a cool interactive map of the US, showing in every zip code how many target customers there are compared to the total number of customers.” The company can click on the map and get reports about the age of the housing stock, the amount of energy consumed per household and the income level of the homeowners, he says.

What’s more, Oregon’s Clean Energy Works, which provides low-cost financing, has helped stimulate the growth of the home performance contracting industry in the state.

“Clean Energy Works got the initial revenue going by generating a bunch of home weatherization projects,” says Pardue.

“It helped us prove our case to investors and helped us raise $2.6 million in private capital. Now we have 80 dealers in 34 states and three provinces in Canada,” he says.

All in all, the state’s programs have been critical to the company’s growth, he says.

“I’d like to believe we would have prevailed without the support, but it has been instrumental to our growth,” says Pardue.

If you own an energy efficiency company and can’t head on out to Oregon, consider asking state legislators for this kind of support. Then watch the benefits flow your way.

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About the Author

Lisa Cohn | Contributing Editor

I focus on the West Coast and Midwest. Email me at [email protected]

I’ve been writing about energy for more than 20 years, and my stories have appeared in EnergyBiz, SNL Financial, Mother Earth News, Natural Home Magazine, Horizon Air Magazine, Oregon Business, Open Spaces, the Portland Tribune, The Oregonian, Renewable Energy World, Windpower Monthly and other publications. I’m also a former stringer for the Platts/McGraw-Hill energy publications. I began my career covering energy and environment for The Cape Cod Times, where Elisa Wood also was a reporter. I’ve received numerous writing awards from national, regional and local organizations, including Pacific Northwest Writers Association, Willamette Writers, Associated Oregon Industries, and the Voice of Youth Advocates. I first became interested in energy as a student at Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut, where I helped design and build a solar house.

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