News Release: Wakonda Technologies is the Clean Energy Entrepreneur of the Year

Nov. 8, 2007 | By George Douglas | Contact media relations

A small company commercializing a novel solar energy technology has been named the Clean Energy Entrepreneur of the Year at the 20th Industry Growth Forum sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

Wakonda Technologies Inc., a New York based company, beat out 31 competitors to be named Entrepreneur of the Year and take the top prize of $10,000. Winners were announced today by Xcel Energy, sponsor of this year’s competition.

Wakonda Technologies is commercializing a Virtual Single Crystal (VSC) photovoltaic technology that can be aesthetically integrated into buildings, infrastructure and personal power applications. The technology promises to bring lower costs because of its higher efficiency, lighter weight and flexibility. Photovoltaics, or PV, convert sunlight directly into electricity.

“It is an honor to receive this award, putting us in excellent company with previous winners. We look forward to emulating their success," Wakonda President Les Fritzemeier said.

Participants in the competition were selected from hundreds of applicants to present their business plans to energy executives and potential investors.

"Our investor panel was impressed with Wakonda’s novel approach to producing high-efficiency PV products—this could be a step-change for the solar industry," said L. Marty Murphy, Forum chairman and NREL’s manager of Enterprise Development.

Outstanding Presentation Awards of $5,000 cash each went to Albeo Technologies Inc. and Bandgap Engineering.

Bandgap Engineering of Westwood, Mass., is working to produce radically more efficient solar cells with maximum efficiencies above 50 percent. Solar cell efficiency is the percentage of sunlight striking the cell that is converted to electricity.

"We are honored by this recognition and look forward to making significant contributions in this very important field," said Marcie Black, Bandgap's founding scientist.

Albeo Technologies of Boulder, Colo., develops and markets intelligent solid-state lighting systems that can substantially reduce energy consumption.

"We would like to thank NREL and Xcel. We are excited about helping create a sustainable future," Jeff Bisberg, Albeo founder and CEO said.

Xcel Energy provided $10,000 to sponsor the annual clean energy award in partnership with the NREL. “We envision a clean energy future, and we’re working to develop new technologies and tools to bring clean energy onto our system at an affordable cost for our customers,” said Riley Hill, regional vice president, customer and community service, Public Service Co. of Colorado, an Xcel Energy company. “The emerging technologies presented at the forum are just a sample of the exciting things going on throughout the clean energy field. We’re pleased to sponsor this award and call attention to the products that will help shape the nation’s energy future.”

NREL’s Industry Growth Forum is America ’s leading clean energy venture event, attracting more than 400 participants this year. The Forum is unique in the real-time feedback and strategic advice its panel offers to its entrepreneurial participants. The past 19 forums have raised more than $560 million in financing for clean energy entrepreneurs and start-up companies. In addition, they’ve helped the formation of more than 25 strategic partnerships. For more information on the Forum, visit

Xcel Energy (NYSE: XEL) is a major U.S. electricity and natural gas company with regulated operations in eight Western and Midwestern states. Xcel Energy provides a comprehensive portfolio of energy-related products and services to 3.3 million electricity customers and 1.8 million natural gas customers through its regulated operating companies. Company headquarters are located in Minneapolis . More information is available at

NREL, in Golden, Colo., is the U.S. Department of Energy's primary national laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development. NREL is operated for DOE by Midwest Research Institute and Battelle.

For more information, contact:

Xcel Energy Media Relations: 303-294-2300
Wakonda Technologies: 585-425-4530
Albeo Technologies: 303-921-1619
Bandgap Engineering: 617-834-4845