State swings $10 million deal to keep green energy firm

By Kevin Zimmerman

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In what Connecticut officials describe as a win-win situation, the state is handing up to $10 million over to Crius Energy LLC to stay in the state, with the company promising the addition of 225 jobs over the next four years.

“It’s a win for them because they have access to a great workforce here,” said Catherine Smith, commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD), which was instrumental in brokering the deal. “And it’s a win for the state to retain a company that is obviously doing well and growing so quickly.”

Crius, which first moved in to its current headquarters at 1055 Washington Blvd. in Stamford in 2012, is undertaking a $29 million renovation of office space in Norwalk, at 535 Connecticut Ave. in the Matrix Group property, where it plans to move in October.

“After a long search, it became clear that the state of Connecticut was deeply committed to helping Crius grow here,” said Chief Operating Officer Chaitu Parikh, who said the company had looked at more than 50 potential new headquarters within and outside of the state. “We were thrilled that the DECD offered a strong business case for Crius remaining in our home state.”

The state is providing Crius with an $8 million low-interest loan to complete the relocation; the firm is also eligible for up to $2 million in tax credits through the Urban and Industrial Sites Reinvestment Tax Credit Program, as well as a $100,000 grant to train employees.

“Founded by a Connecticut entrepreneur (CEO Michael Fallquist), Crius Energy has grown dramatically over the past seven years to become a publicly traded, international company, and we’re committed to helping it expand even further,” Gov. Dannel Malloy said. “This company is helping to fuel the high-tech, innovative economy of tomorrow that is creating good paying jobs all while creating advanced, renewable energy options. We are excited to see them expand here in Connecticut.”

With additional operations in Florida, Texas and Australia, Crius employs more than 300 people nationwide with 200 in Connecticut, along with 22,000 independent Viridian associates workers. It supplies electricity, natural gas and solar energy products to more than 900,000 customers across 19 states and the District of Columbia.

Since 2009, Crius has grown from a single green energy brand, Viridian Energy, to a “holistic energy solutions provider with a family of world-class brands including Comcast Energy Rewards, Public Power and TriEagle Energy,” according to a company statement.

Last year, the company posted revenues of $686 million; for the first quarter of this year its revenue rose 7.4 percent to $180.8 million. In 2015, Crius said it helped keep 3.9 billion pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from entering the environment through the purchase of renewable energy certificates to support its electricity products and carbon offsets that mitigate natural gas products and corporate travel.

In Connecticut, Crius has sold 4.5 megawatts of rooftop solar energy and helped consumers avoid more than 1.5 billion pounds of CO2 emissions. Crius serves more than 90,000 energy customers in Connecticut, and has sold over 4.5MW solar projects in the state, Parikh said.

When Crius moved to Stamford four years ago, he said, “We served roughly half a million customers – today that number is approaching 1 million. In addition, we have expanded our product offering to include residential and commercial solar sales. With more and more businesses and consumers wanting energy options they simply cannot get from the traditional utility model, Crius has outgrown our current space in Stamford. We want to make certain we have the facilities and people we need in Connecticut to continue to fuel this growth in the years and decades ahead.”

“We started talking with them about eight or nine months ago,” Smith said. “They were unable to stay in their existing space, as the building they were in was relatively full. They had a lot of options, but they wanted to stay here and be in the mix of the Northeast corridor with its access to the major financial markets.”

“This is a great example of the kind of jobs that Connecticut is so well-suited for,” she said, “and it affords them the opportunity to draw from the great workforce available here. This project will further develop the state’s maturing innovation ecosystem, which is enabling Connecticut entrepreneurs to explore and test more great ideas, find partners, attract investment and connect with the customers they need to grow.”

“Fairfield County is home to a highly skilled and talented workforce,” said Parikh, “and it’s ripe with diverse options for live, work and play, so remaining here is a win for our current and future colleagues.”

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