Small is Beautiful: Helix Power’s Weinbrandt Sees a Small Wind Turbine On Every Rooftop

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wind companies, Weinbradt says, “We see a consolidation happening. The small mom and pop outfits out there that have technology but no management are falling by the wayside.”

Gardner and Morgan founded the company in 2006, using private funding, and Helix Wind became public through a reverse merger in February with an inactive shell corporation that had no specific business plan. Gardner, who holds a 36 percent stake in the company, continues to serve as CEO and a board member, according to SEC filings. Morgan is no longer involved in Helix Wind, although he continues to hold a 31 percent stake in the company.

Scott Weinbrandt

Scott Weinbrandt

Weinbrandt says he also sees opportunities in using Helix Wind’s turbines to power wireless communication base stations that may or may not be connected to local power grids in remote areas of South America, Africa, and the Middle East. The company says its wind turbines also are ideally suited for pumping water in developing nations, and could be used in conjunction with compressor technology for injection pumps used by the petroleum industry to increase oilfield yields. Helix said last month it had signed a joint development agreement with a Marrero, LA, company called CheckPoint Fluidic Systems to develop an advanced wind turbine pneumatic pumping system for the oil and gas industry. Helix says it has developed a unique wind turbine rotor and CheckPoint has certain technology in precision chemical injection pumping systems.

Weinbrandt tells me it’s been easy to raise capital for Helix Wind among green investors, but the company’s financials look more like a briar patch. In financial results for the first quarter that ended in March, Helix disclosed a working capital deficit of $827,193 (excluding a $15.2 million liability) and an accumulated deficit of more than $25 million. That’s enough, the filing adds, to “raise substantial doubt about the Company’s ability to continue as a going concern.”

Helix also estimates it will need $3 million for operations over the next year, and the company “presently does not have any available credit, bank financing or other external sources of liquidity.” To raise additional capital, the company says it may need to sell additional shares of its common stock or borrow funds from private lenders. The company notes in its SEC filings it is authorized to sell 1.75 billion shares of its common stock. As of May 4, Helix says it has about 37.4 million shares outstanding.

Despite such ominous language, a couple of recent announcements suggest a brighter outlook for Helix:

—Helix said on June 25 it is acquiring Venco Power, a German maker of so-called Darrieus turbines, which often resemble giant egg-beaters. In a later regulatory filing, Helix says it’s paying 2.8 million Euros (about $3.9 million at current exchange rates), with 33 percent paid in shares of Helix stock. Helix says it will immediately begin selling three Venco models, which range in price from $4,000 to $250,000, and which range from a small 300-watt unit to a 50-kilowatt unit, capable of generating enough electricity for scores of homes.

—Helix unveiled new “smart grid” technology on June 30 with the introduction of a wind turbine monitoring system capable of recording and reporting a variety of performance metrics, including a wind turbine’s speed, energy output, inverter data, generator frequency and other variables. Weinbrandt describes the system, which reports data to Helix Wind’s network operating center, as “the first phase of smart grid technology solutions to come from Helix Wind.”

With its stock currently trading at about $3 a share, Helix has a market valuation of roughly $100 million and Weinbrandt says, “It’s all been good news. We’ve just added three new products and our business continues to ramp.”

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Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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