Pennsylvania goes green with $90M initiative

Pennsylvania will commit $90 million to cleantech investment opportunities, State Treasurer Robert P. Casey Jr. announced earlier this month.

The state will back clean technologies, such as alternative and renewable energy sources, through its newly established Keystone Green Fund, a $40 million direct investment fund. The state will also re-allocate $50 million to fund managers with exposure to cleantech companies.

The Keystone Fund will ideally look for businesses with ties to Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania’s announcement was just prior to the Cleantech Venture Forum, which held its annual conference in New York City last week. The forum attendees had a lot to discuss, as the cleantech sector has become an increasingly popular investment target for public and private investors. Venture investors pumped $843 million into cleantech deals during the second quarter, compared to $368 million for the same quarter in 2005, according to a recent report by the Cleantech Venture Network, which also reported that six of the 10 cleantech segments showed increases through the first half of 2006, indicating broad investment interest in the category.

Year to date, VC firms have invested about $1.4 billion into cleantech deals in North America, almost equal to the $1.6 billion invested throughout 2005.

It’s been a busy year for fund-raising too. VantagePoint Venture Partners held a first close on its first fund dedicated exclusively to cleantech in August, raising $73.6 million of a $150 million vehicle. Expansion Capital Partners, a growth stage venture firm focused on cleantech deals, held an initial close of $55 million for its second fund also in August. That fund is targeted at about $80 million. Technology Partners launched a $250 million eighth fund at the beginning of the summer, half of which will go into cleantech deals. Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers raised a $100 million fund earlier this year to go after what it terms “greentech” deals. Nth Power raised $70 million at the end of June for fund IV, according to a regulatory filing. Nth’s fund has a target of $200 million. DFJ Element, an affiliate fund of Draper Fisher Jurvetson, raised $284 million at the beginning of July to invest in cleantech deals. The final close of the DFJ Element fund was almost double the target of the $150 million it set last year. —Alexander Haislip