We have had an interesting year, with a mixture of good and bad news for clean tech in Sacramento.  From the national stage, the federal government has worked to erode progress set out by previous administrations while releasing a report that says we serious consequences from climate change.  California continues to be a world leader by adding the ambitious SB 100 goal to power the state with 100% renewables by 2045. This is on top of the revolutionary Cap and Trade Act AB 32 and the support to ZEV vehicles and mobility from SB 150. It is not all good news though with CARB announcing  communities are behind in the goals of SB 150.

Clean Tech and sustainability projects have continued to grow through the past year even as energy prices dropped. In the region we have seen adoption of adaptive technologies like Grid Rabbit has finished its work at the Hilton adding batteries with their larger power management system, Enerdapt rolling out its building HVAC AI-based engineer called “Hank”, and Integrated Comfort Solutions being bought (don’t worry they are staying local) by Seely International.  The region has attracted additional investment like Electrify America’s $44 million of investment in EV infrastructure.

With all the excitement I wanted to Pick 4 Major things from last year I think will lead Sacramento into the future of Clean Tech.

  1. Zero Emission Mobility is more than just personal electric vehicles.


EVs like Tesla and Jaguar grabbed headlines this year, so did the adoption of EVs across the country. People want to save the environment and money at the pump. In Sacramento ZEVs have played a bigger role in the past year. With the Green Cities Investment, the launch of Jump Bikes, and the city working working towards it’s ZEV plan. There has been a spike in EV infrastructure. To go along with that SHRA is wrapping up its first part of its Car Share program in disadvantaged communities and ENVOY has launched an EV sharing network in Sacramento. All of this is part of a community effort to ensure equity in developing communities. To go with the mobility growth,  Clipper Creek continues its success in the highly competitive EVSE market and Highlands Power is working on a new electric motor, getting lots of attention.


  1. Sacramento is getting recognized and energized


Two Companies were awarded CalSeed funding in Sacramento–Enerdapt and Lucent Optics. Highlands Power and Box Power chose to grow in the Sacramento Region (noting they both had roots and returned here). Terzo demo’d its hybrid electric tree shaker, funded by a CEC grant for tech transfer.  The CEC grants and CalSeed funding are part of an overall push to make California one large cleantech incubator. Part of that push included the formation of four clean tech innovation clusters. CleanStart works with the local cluster Blue Tech Valley to put on the CleanTech MeetUps which have been recognized by the cluster as a big regional success.

Part of this recognition is in these companies showing up at big events like the CleanTech Open, presenting at CalSeed and CEC EPIC Events. Rallying the clean tech startups around our city and showing up in groups help show the rest of the state and investors what we have.  We can sense there is growing investment momentum as we hear about progress on about $150 million in new funding in the pipeline. All of this activity is putting our region on the map.

  1. Energy Storage Wars are just beginning


Several exciting storage companies are getting started in region. We have written on a few (SPIN, Renerage, JLM, Empower, Box Power). Storage is far more than EV and cell phone batteries. Storage is big because historically we have generated power on demand, but with renewables, rooftop solar, and a growing region, more storage is needed. Storage helps a decentralized grid become more resilient and grow by allowing property owners to find arbitrage and utilize more solar. From the utility’s perspective this results in a smoothing of the “duck-shaped” power demand curve.  

  1. Co-Working is here to stay

In 2018 we saw the arrival of several new co-working locations, including COWO (21st and O), Coffee and Co-working (in Oak Park), and The Workshop (near McKinley Park) where Cleanstart held its clean tech meetups. Local stalwarts, Capsity and Urban Hive (with its I/O Lab spinoff) expanded and there are a few new ones in the pipeline. Co-working offers startups and professionals opportunities connecting to the community they wouldn’t have working in isolation. They also host events (such as the CleanTech Meetup) and provide additional services like early morning coffee, food trucks, and office support.  DIfferent ones can connect you with movers and shakers of different backgrounds. COWO owner (and transplanted London Eastender) Kuks Singh has his space decorated by local artists and hosts fashion events as well as 1 Million Cups. The Workshop is part of Kai Partners and owner Terry Daffin holds classes and education around project management.

We see these trends continuing into the New Year, and in January we will be presenting our Fearless Predictions for 2019.  Watch for them, including the return of the Progress Report in 2019


Thomas is the Executive Director of CleanStart. Thomas has a strong background in supporting small businesses, leadership, financial management and is proficient in working with nonprofits. He has a BS in Finance and a BA in Economics from California State University, Chico. Thomas has a passion for sustainability and a commitment to supporting non-profits in the region.

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