Lime Energy Gets $2.5M to Fund Growth of Utility Business

Tom Konrad CFA I was surprised when Lime Energy (NASD:LIME) announced that it was selling a million shares to Richard Kiphart, one of its own directors and its largest shareholder.  Last year, CEO John O’Rourke had told me that Lime  expected to reach profitability without having to raise additional capital. What happened in the meantime? It was the best of Limes, It was the worst of Limes Two things had happened, one bad, one good. The bad was that Lime’s C&I business turned in a particularly weak first quarter, cutting expected profits by a little over $1...

Ameresco (AMRC) Misses by 7 cents: Look to Buy on Any Sell-off

Tom Konrad CFA Ameresco, Inc. (NYSE:AMRC) reported first quarter (Q1) earnings this morning, missing analysts’ earnings expectations by two-thirds.  While Q1 earnings were only 3 cents compared to the 10 cents expected by analysts, the company slightly beat revenue expectations by $600,000 for overall Q1 revenues of $146.6 million. While the headline was disappointing, President and CEO George Sakellaris confidently reaffirmed revenue guidence for the rest of the year, saying that he expected 2012 revenues to be heavily back loaded.  Sakellaris predicts the second half to account for 60-62% of 2012 revenues, compared to 38%- 40% for...

Space Cannon Selects Cree LEDs for All New LED Lighting Systems

Cree, Inc. (CREE) announced that major lighting designer and manufacturer Space Cannon VH S.p.A. has signed an agreement to purchase approximately $5.4 million of XLamp® power LEDs, among the industry's brightest and most efficient high power light emitting diodes (LEDs). Space Cannon plans to use Cree power LEDs exclusively for all future solid state lighting installations, including high profile projects, such as the Turin Olympics. I really like the LED and energy efficiency space and think these types of projects will become more common. The key is to get into these companies at the...

The Sector Information Technology Forgot

Tom Konrad CFA Information technology has mostly passed the energy sector by... but for how long? Information Technology revolutionized the way we buy things (Amazon, eBay), how we get information (Google, Wikipedia, the decline of newspapers), and how we interact with out peers (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn.)  Yet so far, it has had little, if any transformative impact on energy.  Tim Healy, CEO of EnerNOC (ENOC), the world's largest  third party provider of Demand Response to utilities and grid operators, thinks that's about to change. Demand Response (DR) began decades ago with Interruptible loads and Interruptible rates,...

Will We Have Too Much Generation for Renewables?

Too Many Brownies Before Dinner "When you feed your kid six brownies before dinner, you can't expect him to eat the salad, no matter how good it is."  So says Leslie Glustrom, a long term renewable energy advocate.  This is her metaphor for why Xcel Energy (NYSE: XEL) has been reluctant to pursue Demand Side Management (DSM) and renewable energy projects in Colorado as they have been in Minnesota.  Because Xcel is currently constructing 500 MW of new coal-fired generation, and they are also interested in a 300-350 MW IGCC plant by 2013, they may have little demand for...

Investing in Efficient Homes: Energy Star, Built Green, and Beyond

This article is part of a series on the WGA Energy Efficient Buildings Workshop. Sam Rashkin One highlight of the conference was Sam Raskin's (the National Director a.k.a. "Scary Man" of the US EPA Energy Star program.)  I recommend his presentation for graphic infrared images of poorly sealed homes, showing how little the insulation is doing to retain heat or cold if the building envelope is not tight.  It will make you think twice about buying a home that hasn't been checked to be tightly sealed. Rashkin believes that the growing affordability of infrared cameras will allow...

LSB Industries And Activist Fund Position Themselves For Board Election

With the resignation of four non-independent directors and reduction in the size of LSB’s board, the company has managed to appear to be making a step towards reform while making it harder for the activist fund to gain influence. Gaining influence in a tightly controlled family firm is never easy. It looks like the task just got significantly harder for Engine Capital in its quest to unlock shareholder value at LSB.

Obama’s Next $2 Billion For Energy Efficiency: How To Take The Money And Run

By Jeff Siegel It's all about the money. I don't care how you slice it  when it comes to investing, personal politics are irrelevant. This has long been how I've approached wealth creation, and it works quite well. Even as I denounced the continued reliance on outdated and economically inferior energy and transportation systems (i.e. the internal combustion engine and tar sands production), I make no apologies for profiting from new opportunities in fossil fuels. My gains in shale over the past few years alone are reason enough to stick to this strategy. Of course, when I'm given...

Power Integrations: Profiting from Efficient Electronics

Tom Konrad, CFA With new climate legislation or a renewable portfolio standard unlikely now that Republicans control the US House of Representatives, progress on clean energy is likely to come mostly from action at the state level, and from regulation at agencies such as the EPA, rather than national legislation.  Why Energy Efficiency Standards Make Economic Sense One type of regulation that is fairly uncontroversial is improving energy efficiency standards, that is regulation of the amount of energy an appliance or other device can consume during normal use.  In an efficient market, regulation might bring...

Energy Efficiency with Solid State Lighting (LED)

As I mentioned in a previous post (and also a purchase of LSGP.ob), I have become very interested in the potential investment opportunities in companies that are involved in the conversion of typical halogen and incandescent lighting over to solid state lighting (i.e. LED.) With that said, I wanted to pull back the curtain to show you my process and thinking when I enter a new investment space. The potential returns for the companies in this space can be quite large over the next 10 years. Many municipalities and large corporations are looking at the potential...

Investors: Concentrate on This Alternative Energy Sector and You Should Make a Lot of...

Bill Paul For my money, energy efficiency (aka, the “fifth fuel”) is the best alternative energy sector for investors because it’s primarily about saving money, only secondarily about saving the planet. The energy services industry reportedly has grown by more than 20% per year every year since 2004 and efficiency service providers now pull in an estimated $5.6 billion a year just on U.S. commercial buildings. Pike Research says there is a reservoir of untapped projects worth $400 billion. “There’s this huge untapped potential” for energy efficiency, a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency spokesperson was recently quoted as saying....

Ten Solid, Clean Companies Ready For Stimulus, and Five That Aren’t

by Tom Konrad Last February, I wrote " I expect the Fed-induced reprieve to be fairly short lived, ten solid companies I'd be happy to buy more of if and when the bottom really falls out of the market."  When I wrote those words, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was over 12,700.  Now, it's around 8,500, and I doubt anyone remembers the "Fed-induced reprieve" I was referring to.  The "bottom fell out" in September and October.    On October 12, with the DJIA at 8451, I wrote "I don’t know where the market will go from here, but I...

EnerNOC: Demand Response IPO

Lunch with an Efficiency Expert Yesterday, I had lunch with Howard Geller, Ph.D., one of our nation's leading experts in energy efficiency and energy policy. Howard is the director of the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP), former Executive Director of ACEEE, and has a Doctorate in Energy Policy from the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil. My first question for industry experts is which companies are doing good things in their feilds, and I was especially interested in Howard's answers because energy efficiency is so much more difficult to pin down than most other types of...

Waterfurnace 7 Series vs. Climatemaster Trilogy Geothermal Heat Pumps: The Best of the Best

UPDATE: I just looked into the 7 Series vs the Trilogy 40 in more detail here and came to a slightly different conclusion. Tom Konrad CFA Geothermal heat pump diagram via Bigstock Waterfurnace Renewable Energy (TSX:WFI, OTC:WFIFF) launched its new highly efficient 7 Series geothermal heat pumps (GHP) today.  The 7 Series commercial release beats Climatemaster’s (a division of LSB Industries (NYSE:LXU)) Trilogy 40 as the first commercially available GHP with a variable speed compressor.  The Trilogy 40 is currently available as part of a pilot program, and is expected to be commercially available...

Lime Energy: Delivering Energy Efficiency

Tom Konrad CFA The high upfront cost of efficient buildings (and efficiency in general) is more than offset by the significant long term rewards, as you can see from the McKinsey chart below. Despite the long term benefits, the upfront cost is often a barrier, especially to government entities in today's tight budgetary environment. Performance contracting offers them a way to square the circle between the long term budget benefits of efficient buildings and the often significant capital cost. This works by funding the capital improvement with debt secured by future energy savings. An...

Power Integrations Enables Manufacturers to Earn the ENERGY STAR Label on External Power Supplies

Power Integrations Inc (POWI) announced that its EcoSmart technology enables manufacturers to earn the Energy Star label for their external power supplies. An expansion of the Energy Star program announced this week by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency addresses external power supplies, the adapters that power such products as cell phones, MP3 players, digital cameras, PDAs and many other household and office devices.