Hydrovolts Prepares For 2013 Commercialization With New Leadership

11/21/12Follow @bromano

The first half of November was busy for Seattle micro hydropower technology developer Hydrovolts with a leadership change, an important new federal funding opportunity, and an international award.

Burt Hamner, co-founder of the 5-year-old company, is stepping down as chief executive, though he will remain on the board of directors. Mike Layton, chief operating officer for the last two years, becomes Hydrovolts president. The company will look to fill the CEO spot in 2013 as it launches new products, marketing director Rachel Saperstein tells me.

“This change reflects Hydrovolts’ transition from an early-stage development company to an operating business ready to launch its hydrokinetic turbines commercially,” board Chairman Paul Curtis says in a statement, adding: “Hamner has done a tremendous job growing Hydrovolts and winning international recognition. He has always recognized that the company will need new leadership when it goes to market, and that time is now.”

Burt Hamner

Hamner praises Layton’s manufacturing experience and management of daily operations during the last two years.

As Hydrovolts prepares to ramp up production and commercial sales, it got a boost from the U.S. Interior Department. The company’s turbines are eligible for WaterSMART Water and Energy Efficiency Grants, which can cover up to half of the cost of renewable energy and efficiency projects developed by states, Indian tribes, irrigation or water districts and other potential Hydrovolts customers in the Western U.S..

Up to $21 million is available through the annual grant program; applications are due by Jan. 17.

“We have reason to believe that our customers would be very competitive,” Saperstein says.

Hydrovolts’ turbines, assembled in Seattle’s South Park District, are designed for irrigation canals or industrial waterfalls in facilities such as wastewater treatment plants, capturing renewable energy to help offset local needs.

Also this month, the company added to its trophy case, having been selected as a top global cleantech player in its category by the Global Cleantech Cluster Association (GCCA). It was picked for the 2012 Global Top 10 from among 200 companies nominated by the 45 GCCA member clusters—one of which is the Washington Clean Technology Alliance—representing some 4,000 companies around the world.

A panel of 30 cleantech venture capitalists and entrepreneurs made the final selection, which could help Hydrovolts gain exposure to a key audience as it continues to raise funds in support of its new products and operations in 2013.

Benjamin Romano is editor of Xconomy Seattle. Email him at bromano [at] xconomy.com. Follow @bromano