Energy Capital Ventures (ECV), the only strategic venture capital fund purpose-built for driving environmental, social and governance innovation and digital transformation for the natural gas distribution industry, today announced it has closed on $45 million in capital commitments from five leading publicly-traded natural gas utility and multi-line utility companies.
ECV will concentrate on sustainability, reliability and resilience imperatives for the natural gas utility sector. The fund will work collaboratively with its corporate limited partners to identify the top founders and innovators that bring strategic value to its limited partners. This collaborative approach will also provide value-add support and industry access to ECV’s portfolio companies.
This is the first tranche of capital toward a larger fund targeting additional natural gas and diversified utilities, companies participating in and along the natural gas value chain, as well as traditional institutional limited partners who appreciate the ESG imperatives of the fund and the principals’ strong track record, according to ECV managing general partner Vic Pascucci III.
“I’m excited and honored to support our fantastic limited partners in their innovation journeys as we look to the entrepreneurial community to solve their ESG and digital transformation strategic priorities,” Pascucci said. “The opportunity to provide a platform to foster innovation and collaboration for our strategic partners who play such a critical role in our country’s energy transformation is truly amazing.”
Pascucci, a successful venture capitalist and top-performing investor, has led numerous investments in multibillion-dollar companies and category-defining startups. His previous investments include Personal Capital (acquired by Empower Retirement), ID.me, MX, Extend, TRUECar (NASDAQ: TRUE), Care.com (NYSE: CRCM), Coinbase (NASDAQ: COIN) and Clearcover.
Leading Utility Companies Join Fund as Limited Partners
The cornerstone of ECV’s partnership model is customization of the engagement to each limited partner’s strategic priorities, internal processes, resource availability, culture and business imperatives. The founding limited partners are Avista Utilities (NYSE: AVA), Black Hills Corporation (NYSE: BKH), NiSource (NYSE: NI), Southwest Gas (NYSE: SWX) and Spire (NYSE: SR). ECV has a tightly integrated and customized customer service approach toward advancing the industry. With leading natural gas utility companies as limited partners, ECV provides entrepreneurs with immediate access to commercial opportunities and first-hand industry insight.
“Innovation within the energy industry is essential to achieving a clean energy future. New technologies must emerge and evolve to propel us forward. Innovation is in Avista’s DNA. We’ve been innovating for more than 130 years, most recently through Avista’s Energy Innovation Lab,” said Avista President and CEO Dennis Vermillion. “By investing in Energy Capital Ventures, we’re also supporting and enabling the innovation of other companies that could bring new technologies to market to help advance our energy industry. By working together, we can move forward toward the clean energy future we all want.”
“Continually innovating to deliver leading technologies is critical to being ready to serve the future energy needs of our customers and communities,” said Linn Evans, President and CEO of Black Hills Corp. “This collaborative investment in Energy Capital Ventures in a cleaner energy future through safe and reliable natural gas technologies aligns with our ambition to make tomorrow even better than today.”
“As we prepare for the energy needs of future generations, investment in innovation is fundamental. At NiSource, we take a balanced approach to sustainability, which enables our customers to pursue their energy preferences safely, reliably, and affordably,” NiSource President and CEO Joe Hamrock said. “A fund dedicated to the ESG goals and technology advancement of our industry is a transformative enabler that helps us partner with innovative startups to serve our customers and community better.”
“Southwest Gas is committed to helping our customers and the communities we serve to build a sustainable energy future that is clean, affordable and reliable. We know natural gas service will have an essential role in our nation’s energy future and are proud to fund innovations that will propel our industry forward sustainably,” said John P. Hester, President and CEO of Southwest Gas. “Joining forces with industry peers through ECV, we believe our investment will lead to transformational technologies which will benefit both the environment and customers for generations to come.”
“Advancing through innovation is how we work every day at Spire. That’s why we are excited to be a part of ECV, supporting breakthrough innovations to transform how energy is delivered to customers and truly advance our industry,” said Spire CEO Suzanne Sitherwood. “By matching innovative entrepreneurs with established corporations, ECV can push the boundaries of what’s possible in delivering the affordable, reliable, clean natural gas customers depend on.”
ECV General Partners and Strategic Advisory Board Feature Notable Names in the Utility Sector
Joining Pascucci as general partners are Jeff Yingling and Ray O’Connor, two career-long energy sector investment bankers with billions of dollars in completed transaction volume combining for over 70 years of experience. Also joining as a general partner is successful Insurtech investor Rick Viton, who is also a partner with IA Capital, one of the largest strategic Insurtech fund managers with over 15 insurance company limited partner investors. ECV will leverage IA Capital’s strategic investment philosophy as well as the numerous synergistic relationships, technologies, market dynamics and innovation trends between Insurtech/Fintech and the utility industry, including AI technology for workforce and industrial safety, leak detection, IoT, risk management, cyber and climate risk solutions.
ECV has assembled a diverse and accomplished Strategic Board of Advisors to drive natural gas ESG innovation and digital transformation. ECV’s Advisors include active and retired corporate executives, regulators, global energy consultants and civic leaders, including:
- Paul Addison, former Board Member and Finance Committee, First Energy Corp
- David Carroll, President & CEO, Gas Technology Institute (GTI); former President, International Gas Union; Board Member, National Fuel Gas Company
- Paul Dabbar, former Undersecretary for Science, Department of Energy
- Rod Goldstein, former Chairman and Managing Partner, Frontenac
- Chris Gould, EVP and Chief Sustainability Officer, California Resources Corporation; former Head of Corporate Strategy and Chief Innovation Officer, Exelon
- Brad Henderson, Chief Executive Officer, P33 Chicago
- Mike Huebsch, former Commissioner, Public Service Commission of Wisconsin and former State of Wisconsin - Secretary, Department of Administration, State Representative, Assembly Speaker, Majority Leader
- Andy Lerner, Founder and Managing Partner, IA Capital
- Allen Leverett, former CEO, WEC Energy Group
- Margaret MacLean, former President, International, MacLean Power Systems
- Bill Rogers, former EVP & CFO, CenterPoint Energy
- Timothy Simon, former Chairperson NARUC Gas Committee, Chair LNG NARUC/DOE partnership; Chairman of the Board of Directors, California African American Chamber of Commerce, former California PUC, Director, Energy Imbalance Market
- Jan Vrins, Managing Director/ Global Energy Practice Leader, Guidehouse
- Mahvash Yazdi, former SVP and Chief Information Officer, Edison International & So. California Edison
About Energy Capital Ventures
Energy Capital Ventures (ECV) is a strategic venture capital firm focusing on the ESG imperatives, clean energy solutions and digital transformation of the natural gas utility sector. ECV specializes in decarbonization, renewable natural gas and other sustainability solutions for natural gas local distribution companies. Headquartered in Chicago with a presence in New York, ECV takes a customer-centric, ESG perspective on innovation for the industry as it deals with impending paradigm shifts. Learn more at energycapitalventures.com.