Charging Up: Women-led climatetech fund launches $70M round

Highlighting gender diversity and career moves at Reactivate, Meta, Energize Ventures, National Grid and GAF Energy.

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Canary Media’s Charging Up column chronicles gender diversity in the climatetech sector. Please send feedback and tips to [email protected]​canarymedia.​com. Canary thanks CleanCapital for its support of the column.

Venture investors

Powerhouse Ventures — one of the few climatetech funds founded and led exclusively by women — announced a $70 million fund, its second. The capital will back entrepreneurs building digital infrastructure for rapid decarbonization, specifically early-stage, software-focused climatetech startups. Investors in the fund include TotalEnergies Ventures, Constellation Technology Ventures, Energy Impact Partners, American Electric Power, Toyota Ventures, Credit Suisse and the Microsoft Climate Innovation Fund. It is also backed by Sunrun co-founder Lynn Jurich and Google X Director Page Crahan. Powerhouse Ventures’ portfolio companies include Leap, Raptor Maps and Terabase.

Eileen Waris was promoted to principal at Energize Ventures, a venture firm that recently led a $200 million Series D fundraising round in Aurora Solar, a fast-growing startup building software-as-a-service offerings for the distributed solar market. 

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Diverse boards

Julie Blunden joined the board of ZincFive, a builder of nickel-zinc batteries. Blunden has held executive roles at EVgo, SunPower, Green Mountain Energy, Kema Xenergy and SunEdison, and has served on multiple energy industry boards, including the U.S. Energy Storage Association and New Energy Nexus. Along with Elizabeth Lowery, an expert in environmental, social and governance issues, Blunden also joined the board of American Battery Technology Company, which recycles critical minerals and lithium-ion batteries.

Energize Ventures partner Katie McClain will be joining the NCX board of directors. NCX enables companies to meet net-zero goals with offsets that support landowners; it just announced a $50 million Series B fundraising round led by Energize with participation from J.P. Morgan, Marc Benioff’s Time Ventures and others.

Career moves

Reactivate, the community-solar-focused joint venture between Invenergy and investment platform Lafayette Square, hired Utopia Hill as head of engineering, procurement and construction. Hill, who also serves as VP of renewable construction at Invenergy, will help Reactivate finance, acquire, develop and operate solar energy projects primarily serving low- to moderate-income (LMI) communities. Launched in January, Reactivate seeks to develop 3 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity, save $50 million in energy costs for LMI households, sign 100 contracts with minority or women-owned contractors, and facilitate workforce training for 2,500 underserved workers by 2030. Hill joined Invenergy in 2005 as the first minority and female engineer hired by the developer. 

Gabriela Bunea was promoted to chief solar innovation officer at GAF Energy, a developer and vendor of solar roof shingles.

Louise Clark-White was promoted to head of international climate policy at National Grid, one of the largest investor-owned energy companies in the world.

Aimee Rose has been promoted to executive managing director of Activate, a fellowship for science entrepreneurs developing climatetech and other innovations. Activate’s entrepreneurial fellowship model originated at Cyclotron Road, a division of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and founding Activate partner. 

Kathryn Ostman joined Swift Current Energy, a wind and solar energy project developer, as senior VP of legal. Ostman was previously with Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, where she was a partner. 

Katie Hoepfl, previously with NovaSource Power Services, is now VP of business development at Tonian Renewables, a provider of operation and maintenance services for the commercial wind and solar industries.

Jennifer Weinstein was promoted to VP of financial operations at Summit Ridge Energy, a solar plant developer and financier.

Noelle Paige was promoted to director of financial operations at solar developer and financier Summit Ridge Energy.

Linh Tran is now VP of sales at FranklinWH Energy Storage. Tran was previously at LG ESS Battery. 

Erin Szalkowski, formerly principal at Innovant Public Relations, has been promoted to president of the firm. Ally Copple, former director of communications at Cypress Creek Renewables, recently joined the PR firm as a partner. 

Mitalee Gupta Agarwal, previously with Hanwha Q Cells, is now director of commercial operations at energy storage integrator LS Energy Solutions.

Cici Saekow, formerly with East Bay Community Energy, is now a renewable energy manager at Meta.

An inspiring artist

At the age of 69, self-taught Ukrainian folk artist Polina Rayko (19282004) began decorating her home and property in the town of Oleshky with colorful painted murals, setting aside whatever money she could spare to buy paint and brushes. Eventually, her home became a popular tourist attraction and a national cultural touchstone. Although Russian forces have been active in the area, it was reported over the weekend that Rayko’s home is still standing. 

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Eric Wesoff is the editorial director at Canary Media.