Google-backed startup LevelTen Energy lands $35M as clean power sector booms

LevelTen Energy CEO Bryce Smith. (LevelTen Photo)

Seattle startup LevelTen Energy has raised $35 million in a Series C round led by NGP Energy Capital, with participation from Google and others. The company facilitates the purchase of renewable power and helps support the creation of solar- and wind-power farms. Total funding to date is $62.3 million.

News of the funding comes as Congress is negotiating legislation that could help the country reach President Biden’s goal of eliminating greenhouse gas emissions from power plants by 2035. The effort requires a massive shift to renewables. And it sets the stage for a very different marketplace than when LevelTen CEO and founder Bryce Smith launched the business in 2016.

Smith was trying to get his clean energy startup off the ground as the newly elected Trump administration was pushing coal power and other fossil fuels and pulling out of the Paris Agreement. Despite that backdrop, Smith was able to raise millions of dollars in funding.

It turned out that the market was being driven by leadership from corporations and utilities much more than from political leaders and legislation.

“The pros of that are we’re not really subject to political whims,” he said. “These are voluntary efforts that continue to build.”

LevelTen is supporting renewables through three avenues. It operates a marketplace that allows corporations, utilities, universities and others to sign on to power purchase agreements with renewable sources such as wind and solar energy. It runs a second marketplace that helps energy developers and financiers who want to directly buy, sell or invest in the physical infrastructure of wind and solar power farms. And it enables organizations with power agreements track their renewable energy agreements and their carbon footprint impacts.

LevelTen reports that it has facilitated more than $5 billion worth of renewable energy transactions, including power purchase agreements. And the sector is booming.

On Tuesday the American Clean Power Association released new figures tracking the growth of the sector. The U.S. added 9,915 MW of clean power capacity in the first half of the year, a 17% increase over the same period last year. The brings the total capacity in the U.S. to 180,216 MW, which is enough to power more than 50 million homes — more than double the U.S. capacity from five years ago. The association reports that there are more than 900 additional projects under construction or in advanced development.

LevelTen is operating in the U.S., Canada and 19 European countries. It has 54 employees and offices in Seattle and Madrid.

Other investors in the Series C round include My Climate Journey (MCJ) Collective, as well as nearly all of LevelTen’s existing investors: Avista Development, Constellation Technology Ventures, Equinor Ventures, Founders’ Co-op, Prelude Ventures, Techstars, TotalEnergies Ventures and Wireframe Ventures. Google’s participation is described as aligning with its “goal of supporting innovative solutions that help enable businesses of all sizes, including Google Cloud customers, to source 24/7 carbon-free energy.”

And does Smith think Biden’s goal for an emissions-free power system is doable?

“100 percent doable,” he said. “The challenge is how can we do it fast. We don’t have significant technological barriers to making that happen more quickly.”

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