Small-Scale Wind Maker Marquiss Acquires Cirrus, Goes Fundraising

The world of small-scale wind got even smaller this week after Marquiss Wind Power completed its acquisition of Cirrus Technologies. Marquiss gains intellectual property from Cirrus’s seven patents in wind energy and Cirrus founder John Roskey will serve as Marquiss Wind’s chief technology officer. Financial details of the deal weren’t disclosed.

Marquiss CEO Paul Misso tells us the Folsom, Calif.-based startup has just kicked off fundraising for its Series B round; he will be down on Sand Hill Road this week looking for $7.5 million to $10 million in funds to add to the $2 million from Velocity Venture Capital and small investors it’s raised to date. Misso says the money is needed to build out the six-person company with a dozen more employees as well as to secure international manufacture and sales. Misso estimates that Marquiss, which was founded in 2006, will be profitable by the first half of 2009.

The young company only has three turbines installed but is moving quickly to put more product in the field. Misso says that in addition to deals with two customers, Marquiss is in talks with a dozen more interested parties — including a number of big-box retailers — and will be doing new installs by the end of the quarter. The company’s small turbines range in price from $29,900 to $79,900 and generate 5-20 kilowatts of power.

As a small-scale wind player, Misso isn’t sweating the looming expiration of the production tax credit that threatens utility-scale wind. “For small-scale wind, given it’s a complete different scale, there are different incentives available,” Misso explains. “Unfortunately those incentives are pretty meager except in California, Nevada and Hawaii. What we’re doing is investing time at the state level to get state incentives.” On the municipal level, Marquiss sits on San Francisco’s recently formed wind power task force, which is charged with making recommendations on fostering the nascent urban wind market — a huge opportunity for small-scale wind startups.

Misso said the company is also trying to find favorable markets abroad. “We’re looking abroad to license marketing and distribution. Chile and Malaysia especially. There’s lots of government incentives there for manufacturing in those countries.”

But there are still hurdles. “It’s difficult to find generators and inverters that match to wind energy,” Misso says. “That’s a big barrier to entry.” The problem is that the electronics need to be able to handle quick and constant changes in power generation as wind gusts ebb and flow.

With the expiration of the production credit drawing nearer, investors looking to make a wind play might steer away from utility-scale projects and see small-scale wind as a safer bet. At least, that’s what Misso will pitch to the Silicon Valley VCs this week.