NECEC announces 2022 award winners

Solstice Power Technologies, Boston Materials, Activate, Gridtwin, Eversource and EIT InnoEnergy take home this year's awards.

Somerville, Mass. - The Northeast Clean Energy Council (NECEC) handed out its 2022 Awards last week at the organization’s annual meeting at Greentown Labs in Somerville. Winners in the four categories–Clean Energy Company of the Year, Emerging Company of the Year, Startup Supporter of the Year and Partnership of the Year–came from a strong and diverse group of finalists.

On hand to present the awards were NECEC President Joe Curtatone; SparkCharge CEO, NECEC Board Member and 2021 Clean Energy Company of the Year Award winner Josh Aviv; along with representatives from NECEC’s platinum sponsors: Tom Burton of Foley Hoag, James Krayer of Marsh McLennan and Mark Barnettt of Mintz Levin. The event was sponsored by Jupiter Power.

Traditionally the awards are given at NECEC’s fall Green Tie Gala, but that event took place in the spring of 2022 as everyone emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic. The Gala will return to its fall slot in 2023, where next year’s awards will be presented.

The 2022 winners are:

Clean Energy Company of the Year - Solstice Power Technologies

Solstice is deploying community-scale solar, including for households with limited-to-moderate income. It garnered this award not just because it is deploying critical clean energy technology, but because of its strong guiding values that are putting the benefits of that technology in the hands of people often left behind in technological revolutions due to geography, income and circumstance.

Since its inception, Solstice has generated demand for 165 MW of clean energy projects and is currently managing 101 MW of community solar with over 300 MW in its project pipeline. It has connected more than 12,000 households to local operating solar farms in Massachusetts, New York, Illinois & Minnesota, totallng 113,043,733 kWh of clean energy, with near-term expansions planned for Maine, New Jersey, Virginia and New Mexico. In ensuring this additional solar capacity is built, it has avoided 80,112 metric tons of CO2, which is equivalent to 88,636,780 pounds of coal not burned or 17,262 gasoline-powered passenger vehicles taken off the road for one year. As of 2021, 36 percent of the customers on its platform were low-to-moderate income, which stands in contrast to the majority of the solar industry and reflects its vision to have a customer base that reflects the demographics of America.

“NECEC's mission statement is we lead the clean, just and rapid transition to a clean energy future and diverse climate economy, and Solstice fully embodies that ethos,” Curtatone said. “They are working overtime to make sure society-changing clean energy technology is non-exclusive and delivers true economic and environmental justice. When somebody asks how we include the whole of society in decarbonization, we can just point to Solstice as a company committed to the belief that clean energy must be accessible for everyone.”

Solstice is also a graduate of the Cleantech Open Northeast startup accelerator program, which is operated by NECEC.

"What sets Solstice apart is their focus on underserved communities and their community partner programs that help to build local wealth,” said Cleantech Open Northeast Director Beth Zonis. “It is rare to have a for-profit company working on a sustainable solution to climate justice and energy access. Low-to-moderate income Americans pay a disproportionate amount of their salary on energy, are disproportionately affected by climate change and pollution, and yet they are disproportionately locked out of the benefits of the clean energy market.”

Solstice’s Vice President for Revenue Craig Armstrong accepted the award.

“We've been fortunate to find mentors, advisors, and, of course, investors from the Boston cleantech ecosystem, who have supported our mission of not just increasing deployment of community solar but ensuring its benefits are expanded equitably’” he said. “With this community's support we saw 7x growth over the last two years, culminating in an acquisition a couple of months ago. We're continuing to grow Solstice and expand our impact under the ownership of MyPower, which is Mitsui's North American energy subsidiary. We’re looking forward to continuing to offer guaranteed savings to solar subscribers and investing in new products and services that put the energy needs of communities first. We thank you for recognizing the work we’ve done thus far - and can’t wait for the work to come.”

Emerging Company of the Year - Boston Materials

Boston Materials manufactures lightweight, low-carbon metals and materials. They're designing the building blocks of the future, where high performance and a zero carbon footprint will be required.

It has developed a new material, called Z-axis Fiber, that has the potential to disrupt the transportation and electronics industries through its breakthrough light-weighting and thermal management properties. The material is manufactured using a patented fiber manipulation technology and is a key performance enabler. The use of reclaimed carbon fiber as a feedstock also unlocks circularity for the composites industry for the first time, diverting a $2 billion/year carbon fiber waste stream (primarily generated by the aerospace and wind energy industries) into high-value applications.

“The buildings and manufacturing sectors are rapidly waking up to the need to decarbonize, but that’s going to necessitate a revolution in how we design and source the core materials needed in that work, and Boston Materials is at the forefront of that revolution,’ Curtatone said. “A lot of people and companies talk about the future, but this company is actually reinventing things like metal in order to make it happen.”

Anvesh Gurijala, CEO of Boston Materials, accepted the award.

“We believe the decarbonization of energy and transportation relies on breakthroughs in advanced materials,” he said. “NECEC's recognition of Boston Materials as an emerging leader in advanced materials is exciting and encouraging. We deeply appreciate the support of NECEC.”

Startup Supporter of the Year - Activate

Activate is nurturing some of the most notable startups in the region, providing mentorship and securing critical funding. Specifically in the Northeast, has raised over $90 million in follow-on funding. Since 2019, it has supported 35 fellows from 28 companies who have created over 100 jobs in the Northeast. In 2021 it opened a New York City location, joining its Boston space to give it even greater regional impact.

“We’re seeing exceptional growth in the climate tech arena and Activate has a successful, proven program that is growing along with it,” said NECEC Vice President for Innovation and Partnerships Alistair Pim. “It has nurtured some of the most exciting startups we’ve seen in our region in recent years, helping them turn ambitious concepts into ready-for-market products and helping them secure the seed funding to become revenue-generating businesses.”

“We are extremely honored to have been selected as Start-up Supporter of the Year from such a highly mission-aligned partner,” Aimee Rose, Executive Managing Director at Activate. “It's a tremendous endorsement of the communities Activate has built in Boston and New York to empower the next generation of cleantech entrepreneurial fellows. Our success -- Activate Fellows have collectively raised more than $1.1B in follow-on funding from public and private sources; filed over 320 patent applications (with 48 granted to date); established more than 470 corporate partnerships; and created more than 1,200 U.S. jobs -- is in no small part due to the robust ecosystem NECEC convenes that supports our fellows to thrive.”

Partnership of the Year - Gridtwin and Eversource

For the second year in a row, we have a tie in the Partnership of the Year. The first winners are Eversource and Gridtwin, whose partnership has resulted in the development and widespread deployment of a software platform for both solar developers and the electric utility. Gridtwin software assists solar developers with utility interconnection, mapping and parcel identification for ground-mounted solar projects. The software also provides the electric utility with software reports and tools to improve the planning process.

“The biggest bottlenecks for deploying clean energy are siting and interconnection, so the Gridtwin partnership with Eversource is the sort of critical innovation we need to accelerate and expand the installation of solar projects,” said NECEC Vice President for Policy and Government Affairs Jeremy McDiarmid. “This really gets right to the heart of the issues developers are experiencing and trying to overcome.”

Gridtwin Founder Matthew Brusnahan and Eversource Senior Data Scientist Sophia Zhang accepted the awards. Gridtwin is also a graduate of the Cleantech Open Northeast accelerator program.

"Gridtwin couldn't be more excited about receiving this award from NECEC for our partnership with Eversource,” Brusnahan said. “We believe this partnership, and the public software tools now available for solar developers, are crucial for improving interconnection throughout New England. Projects like this show the commitment of Eversource, MassCEC and solar developers to adopt new technologies and work together to reach our clean energy goals."

“Eversource Energy is honored to be awarded the 2022 NECEC Partnership of the Year Award for our work with Gridtwin Energy,” Zhang said. “Eversource Energy has a mission to deliver reliable energy and to do the right thing for our customers and the environment. Achieving our bold clean energy goals in the Northeast requires us to accelerate change, and this partnership has allowed us to improve the interconnection process in Massachusetts. The success of the partnership is due to the commitment of three entities, Eversource, Gridtwin, and the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center to explore new, innovative solutions to a difficult problem facing the clean energy industry. We are excited about and continuously looking for opportunities to innovate and partner with impactful organizations and implement trail blazing technology across the region.”

Partnership of the Year - EIT InnoEnergy and the Village of Ossining, New York

InnoEnergy will deploy over 1000 e-bikes, charging stations and infrastructure upgrades to the Village of Ossining and surrounding communities. Winners of NYSERDA’s $7 million Electric Mobility Challenge, they will deploy the e-bikes, charging stations and infrastructure upgrades. The prize money will fund the program for at least three years, in which InnoEnergy will oversee all project partners and lead the expansion and replication of the program into nearby Rivertown communities including Croton-on-Hudson, Tarrytown and Dobbs Ferry.

"As a former mayor who placed great value on active and alternative forms of transportation, I know how impactful the micromobility partnership InnoEnergy has forged with the communities along the Hudson can be," Curtatone said. "This is the sort of the thing that can transform how people live, work, play and raise a family in their communities. It can help breathe new life into downtowns and business districts, making them destinations rather than places people pass through on their way to somewhere else. Addressing transportation at a human scale is one of the most effective zero carbon solutions we have."

InnoEnergy’s U.S. Operations Manager Mark Vasu accepted the award.

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