For some lawyers, working at a large law firm could be the pinnacle of their career. But for others, a vision of shaping a different future is likely to eventually drive them out of the firm and into their own company. This was the case for Ben Parvey and his partners at Blue Sky Power LLC.
Parvey and Matt Stanger started thinking about working together to create a clean energy company over three years ago. “We both have young families and we want to do something that would have a greater impact on the world and specifically to help foster a new era for clean energy,” said Parvey. “We both had the vision and drive to do something beneficial for society and had the desire to run our own business and determine our own destiny.”
Between Parvey’s extensive knowledge of finance law as it applies to putting together large infrastructure projects and Stanger’s background as a land use lawyer and engineer, the two were able to realistically evaluate their potential for success. “We worked on our business plan for almost a year,” Parvey said. “We ended up doing exactly what we said we would do: investing in the revitalization of our host city (Camden), working on the types of projects we wanted (clean energy capital projects) and working for the types of clients we said we would (universities, governments, school districts, institutions, commercial and industrial facilities).”
Although after the economic meltdown of 2008, clean energy has been touted as an up-and-coming industry, Parvey does not view the industry as an easy industry to break into. “Many people who launch clean energy businesses quickly leave because it’s harder than they thought,” said Parvey. “People think the state and federal governments are throwing money at these projects, and that’s not entirely true. These are complex, tax-structured energy transactions that require sophistication and understanding.” Parvey and Stanger have the required understanding, as does their newest partner, Frank Haaz. Haaz applies his background as a tax attorney and CPA to company projects by dealing with financial institutions and equity investors and carrying out financial analysis and finance negotiations. With all of this combined project development and finance expertise that is focused on clean energy, the company is able to offer a comprehensive approach to the development of clean energy that no individual consultant could provide.
“We develop clean energy projects day in and day out, so we really are very specialized,” said Parvey. “We’re a project developer and a system owner and operator. As a project development advisor for municipal utility authorities, school districts, and port facilities, we tell them what types of clean energy projects they can do and how they can finance them. And then we move them from project conception through project installation and operation.”
One such project is at Georgian Court University. The university contracted with Blue Sky Power to build, finance, construct, own and operate their clean energy systems. Blue Sky Power owns the system and sells them energy under a 15-year power-purchase agreement. Another client is Gloucester Township, where the company is developing an energy master plan under a United States Department of Energy grant. The company also just won a bid for a project at the Tioga Marine Terminal in Philadelphia. Other clients include the Central Regional School District in Bayville, Ocean County; The Masonic Home in Burlington, New Jersey; and Cherry Hill Township.
By the summer of 2009, Blue Sky Power LLC had outgrown its office in Haddonfield, New Jersey. One of their then future partners suggested they check out what would become their present location: the Camden Waterfront Technology Center, which houses the Rutgers Camden Business Incubator. The Rutgers Camden Business Incubator accommodates more than 40 client companies, including several clean energy businesses.
“It was exactly what we needed: a Class A office space with room to grow, with all the business support services at an affordable price,” said Parvey. “The building was also appealing to us as a clean energy company because it has LEED Gold certification, which is productive for public relations and marketing. And we are accessible to many of the major transportation routes in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, including I295, I95, and the New Jersey Turnpike. We’re also minutes from the Philadelphia Amtrak station for regular trips to DC and New York City. Camden really is central to the region.”
Blue Sky Power is experiencing significant growth which has been fostered by the Camden Technology Center. Since Blue Sky Power is growing rapidly, the company is bursting at the seams. As the company continues to grow and its space needs increase, the intention is to keep the business in Camden, which benefits the community and Blue Sky Power’s growth.
The National Business Incubation Association (NBIA) is the world’s leading organization advancing business incubation and entrepreneurship. Each year, it provides thousands of professionals with information, education, advocacy and networking resources to bring excellence to the process of assisting early-stage companies. An elected, voting board of directors representing the world's leading incubators governs the association.
The New Jersey Business Incubation Network (NJBIN) is a collaborative state-wide community of business experts, resources and facilities dedicated to enhancing the commercial success of early-stage entrepreneurial companies, growing higher paying jobs in New Jersey and supporting the Economic Growth Strategy for the State.
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