Friday, July 29, 2011

Reducing Battery Costs for Fleet Vehicles

Each month, we like to interview CCIA members to talk about what innovative technologies they are developing, how their business is progressing and what they get out of being a member of Colorado Cleantech Industry Association.

Here we met with John Bryan, Chief Technology Officer for Fleet Energy Company.

What do you do?
Fleet Energy Company (FEC) is virtual power plant aggregator and project developer for electrification of medium and heavy duty fleet vehicles to be used in grid support of renewables integration and grid security. FEC is a spin off from Burt Fleet Services - a $2.4 Billion commercial fleet sales company.

We work in transportation-energy storage to convert everything from school buses to commercial delivery vehicles from diesel-fueled engines to plug-in electric motors. We make it affordable for businesses through leasing and then contracting the buses’ big power batteries to utilities and others that need a place to store power.

How long have you been in business?
Burt Automotive Network has been in business since 1939, but seeing enormous potential in the fleet services division, made the decision last year to focus on their commercial fleet division and sell off most of it’s car dealerships.

How did you get into the cleantech business?
I have worked in the energy industry since 2007. I was previously Xcel Energy’s Utility Innovations’ Program Manager responsible for their Vehicle-to-Grid Plug In Hybrid Electric Vehicle (V2G PHEV) project. Also at Xcel, I was a subject matter expert for their $100M SmartGridCity™, and Program Manager for the utility’s 1 MW/7.2 MWh Wind to Battery Energy Storage project.

Previously, I worked as a manufacturing quality engineer from the automotive manufacturing industry and worked for a Tier 1 supplier to Ford, GM, Toyota, and others. So I have experience in both the automotive and energy services industries, so it was a natural fit for me to help launch Fleet Energy Company.

What's the biggest thing you've learned so far from the startup process?
I’m really a jack of all trades. Managing everything from sales and marketing to business operations has been challenging but fun. I’ve gotten a lot of advice from CREED and CCIA about how to refine the way I talk about my business and through the CleanLaunch Technology Incubator program, I get advice on other parts of my business that I’m not as experienced in. It’s nice to be so close to that expertise.

Has it been helpful to be a member of CCIA? How so?
The collaboration between CREED and Colorado Cleantech Industry Association has been enormously helpful to grow my business. I have a great group of business advisors both from NREL and the local community who are always available to me. As part of the CleanLaunch, I can tap the expertise and technologies coming out of NREL.

Finally, where are you going next with your business?
We are focused on growing our fleet partnership division with smart grid companies and other utility-scale companies that can provide our commercial customers with access to the grid. We have a lot of interest from the commercial fleet market because we offer clean-energy vehicle at a fraction of the cost of what they would pay if they bought the vehicle outright. We see the market potential for this business model to be in the billions of dollars and we haven’t seen a lot of competition out there.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Northern Colorado Job Growth

Recently, Executive Director Chris Shapard sat down with the Fort Collins Coloradoan to talk about Northern Colorado's booming cleantech industry.

The article points out that Northern Colorado's cleantech jobs are growing faster than the state and national average, according to a new report from the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings Institution.

"Northern Colorado is ahead of the game because of a collective mindset and everyone working toward the same objective," Shapard told the Coloradoan. You can read the full text of the article here:

We're excited to see Northern Colorado get the recognition they deserve. With the support of Colorado State University, local businesses are pulling together to make clean energy jobs a reality.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Colorado Continues to Rank as Cleantech Leader

Two recent publications ranked Colorado in the top of cleantech business development as the state’s economy continues to gain momentum.

Cleantech is a growing part of Colorado’s state economy and has created more than 5,000 jobs since 2007. The cleantech industries in Colorado grew at more than twice the annualized rate than the Colorado economy as a whole between 1999 and 2009. The Colorado Cleantech Industry Association continues to work at growing cleantech industries in Colorado to create new jobs.

Forbes Magazine

This week Forbes magazine named two Colorado cities in the top 10 for The Best Places For Business, with Fort Collins in fourth place and Denver taking ninth place. The CCIA has been hard at work, fostering economic growth, especially for cleantech companies, and it is great to see this hard work is paying off.

Clean energy was one of the major industries the Forbes list highlighted for Fort Collins. The strong presence of Colorado State University is seen as aiding in these industries success by providing resources and research facilities.

Although clean energy was not a major industry for Denver, because of Denver’s central location, the energy industry is seen as another stable of Denver’s economy. Denver is seen as a natural distribution hub to the west, making it a great place set up shop.

Brooking Institute

A new report in Brookings Institute, Sizing the Clean Economy, named Colorado as fifteenth overall as a “green” job leader. The report also took into consideration organic farming and other non-technical related fields to assess the rankings. Oil and gas extraction was also considered in the report.

Once cleantech and education were only taken into consideration, Colorado cam out in sixth place, behind Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas and California. Obviously, educational opportunities weighed heavily on the results.

Denver’s largest segment of clean jobs existed in conservation, with 6,999 jobs in 2010. Cleantech companies are not only providing jobs for the economy but offer better pay than the standard U.S. wage.

We are proud to continue our work with our key partners the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the University of Colorado-Boulder, Colorado State University, Colorado School of Mines, Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, the Governor’s Energy Office and all of you in order to continue our efforts to promote economic growth with cleantech industries.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Thanks to our friends at Posit Partners for the following "5 in 5" interview with CCIA's Executive Director, Chris Shapard.

We find it fascinating to learn why people do what they do and think what they think. This month, Christine Shapard, Founding Executive Director of the Colorado Cleantech Industry Association (CCIA), shares her insights with us.

Why do you do what you do? I totally believe in the potential of Colorado’s clean technology companies to be an economic development driver for the state of Colorado. Colorado’s numerous assets have aligned to grow the cleantech sectors in a big way, and the CCIA is helping to coordinate the ecosystem so that everyone is working toward the same end game.

What’s the most rewarding aspect of your job? Helping cleantech entrepreneurs get what they need to be successful. Whether it’s introductions to strategic partners, connections to experienced talent, securing state funding or just making sure our elected officials understand the importance of the industry to Colorado, I get energy (no pun intended) from their passion.

In your experience, what’s the one thing that most often gets in the way of great marketing? For the trade association world, the variety of audiences you must connect with.

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned in your career? Be nice because politics makes for strange bedfellows.

If you could wave your marketing wand and make any product or service in the world a smashing overnight success, what would it be? My husband’s homeowner’s concierge service that he’s getting off the ground this fall.