Total buys stake in United Wind

Russell Tencer, United Wind’s chief executive, said the latest investment from a European company could one day lead to an expansion overseas.

The investment arm of oil giant Total has acquired a stake in distributed wind pioneer United Wind for an undisclosed amount.

Russell Tencer, United Wind’s chief executive, told Infrastructure Investor that this investment will help push its small-scale turbine leasing programme into windy states in the Midwest and help meet its goal to build 1,000 turbines by 2017.

Headquartered in Brooklyn, the company started in 2013 and now has 25 employees and field offices in Denver, Colorado and Kansas. The company installs and maintains up to 100KW turbines for qualified customers through a fixed-rate, 20-year lease for no money in advance, much like the solar industry’s pre-financed rooftop installation business model.

Total Energy Venture’s (TEV) investment is the latest in a series of growth capital committed to United Wind. It’s also the second investment from an oil company seeking to diversify its portfolio, following Norway’s Statoil committing $3 million in March.

“This latest investment strengthens TEV’s participation in the distribution of renewable energy. It allows us to explore the interest in small-scale renewable energy solutions which can be connected to the grid and how these can be financed,” said Jerome Schmitt, TEV’s executive vice president of sustainable development and environment.

Last October, US Bank and NY Green bank committed $13.5 million to United Wind. Three months later, in January, Forum Equity Partners committed $200 million.

Tencer said the company is focused on growing its US business for now. But with Statoil and Total as European partners, he said United Wind could one day expand overseas. “There are many countries throughout the world that have a significant wind resource,” Tencer said. “We think we can be the provider of choice for distributed generation wind options.”