By Mark Chediak, Bloomberg
Ice Energy, a California firm that uses chunks of ice to cool buildings, has secured $40 million in financing from private equity group Argo Infrastructure Partners LLC.
The bulk of the funding will help pay for a storage project for Edison International’s Southern California Edison utility, Ice Energy Chief Executive Officer Mike Hopkins said in an interview. He didn’t provide a valuation for the company. The closely held firm will also use the proceeds to cover smaller deployments and operational costs and is partnering with Argo on financing for installations planned in the U.S., Europe, the Middle East, Australia and Japan.
“This is not the kind of thing that infrastructure funds would have done traditionally,” Hopkins said. The financing shows that distributed energy resources are now being seen as a natural part of the power grid, he said. The same kinds of funds are snapping up solar and wind power assets as renewable energy is increasingly being seen a safe play for long-term, steady returns.
Ice Energy, based in Costa Mesa, California, makes refrigerator-sized systems that freeze water at night when electricity prices are low and uses it to provide cooling during the day when rates are higher. They’re installed on the roofs of commercial buildings and connected to air conditioning systems. When switched on, they cut down on buildings’ electricity demand and free up supplies for utilities to use.