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California Energy Commission approves additional funding for local clean energy start-ups

The Southern California Energy Innovation Network, run by Cleantech San Diego, will see five more years of funding to help energy entrepreneurs.

SAN DIEGO — The Southern California Energy Innovation Network, known as the 'SCEIN,' has been approved by the California Energy Commission for another five years of funding to help local businesses bring clean energy innovation to the market. 

The SCEIN not only provides funding to many of these emerging companies, but also can connect entrepreneurs to research and testing programs, pilot project opportunities, and policy guidance. 

Marty Turock is the executive director of the program and has worked alongside San Diego-based companies needing help. He says while at one time, clean energy or energy-efficient causes weren’t always profitable for businesses -- things have changed.

“Eight years ago, solar and storage were more expensive than the alternative," Turock told News 8. "But now, where we are in terms of the cost, it's actually cheaper than gas turbine power plants and other alternatives. So, the fact of the matter is, even if you don't care about the environment, just the smart business, the economic thing to do is go with these new technologies and for free you get the benefit of greenhouse gas reduction and improving the environment.”

Cleantech San Diego leverages a network of 120 members that range across the public, private, and academic sectors to assist these start-up companies. 

Beyond that, capital and connection to investors is a huge component of the program to encourage the growth of these businesses. 

"We've been constantly cultivating relationships with strategic investors and VC investors so when our companies are looking for money we can make those introductions," said Turock.

According to the organization, 50 companies have received assistance from the SCEIN. 

"Together, these startups employ 320 people, have had 134 patents approved, and have raised more than $162 million in private and public investment since being accepted into the program. 74 percent of SCEIN companies have diverse representation in their C-suite leadership teams (59 percent women, 53 percent minorities, 24 percent veterans)."

One of the businesses receiving some of that funding is called XENDEE. They help design microgrids -- a way to distribute energy with less waste and more opportunity for clean energy involvement. 

“The past has been a hub and spoke approach to energy," said Adeeb Nasle, owner of XENDEE. "With a microgrid, it's far more efficient because you put the generation close to where it's being consumed. So, you don't have these long power lines. At the same time, you're now able to introduce a lot of renewables.”

Nasle’s company has only been around since 2018 but has been able to grow substantially thanks in part to the resources and funding from the Southern California Energy Innovation Network. Marty and Adeeb say as energy becomes decentralized it makes it safer and allows for San Diego to become more eco-friendly.

To find more information or see if your clean energy start-up is eligible for funding, you can go to https://cleantechsandiego.org/

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