Viridis Energy forms subsidiary to broker energy transactions

By Viridis Energy Inc. | November 20, 2013

Viridis Energy Inc., a cleantech manufacturer and distributor of renewable energy providing waste biomass fuel to global residential and industrial markets, announced that it has formed a wholly owned subsidiary, Viridis Merchants Inc., to arrange transactions between buyer and sellers of alternative energy, including wood pellets.  The company has hired commodities trading specialist Jesse Harte as managing director of the wholesale division of Viridis Merchants. Doug Middleton, who currently manages the U.S. brokerage business for Viridis, has been appointed managing director of the retail division of Viridis Merchants. Christopher Robertson, Viridis’ CEO, will also serve as president of Viridis Merchants.

“The wood pellet industry represents a classic merchandising opportunity in its early stages. Viridis intends to expand its brokerage business, which currently utilizes several third party producers, to include locational differentials, supply and demand imbalances and aggregation opportunities to increase its overall participation,” said Robertson, “In addition to brokering transactions between buyers and sellers, Viridis intends to augment its production capacity, currently approaching 200,000 tons per year from its Okanagan Pellet and Scotia Atlantic Biomass Companies, with third party suppliers’ products of equal quality to develop additional brands in the residential market.”

Robertson added, “Since the business model is that of a broker, the gross margins generated from Viridis Merchants are expected to be lower than our core business; however, the operating margins should be significantly higher since there are minimal incremental operational costs associated with the business.”

Harte joins Viridis Energy with over 25 years of experience in the physical and financial commodities markets. Harte recently has been involved in the crude oil, carbon, power, and biomass sectors. He spent six years with the Royal Bank of Scotland’s trading units, most recently as global head of commodities sales, where he led the firm’s global commodities futures platform which included commodities financing. Harte also served as a senior vice president of RBS Sempra Commodities during which he implemented its merchant biomass business. Prior to RBS Harte traded for Duke Energy Merchants, was a Senior Vice President Energy Products for Daiwa Securities; and president of Bay Area Petroleum, an energy brokerage firm. Harte received a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Resource Economics from the University of Maine and served as a member of the New York Mercantile Exchange’s board of directors between 1999 and 2005.

“The market for brokering wood pellets and other renewable energy commodities is in its developing stage. Commercial users of wood pellets, such as energy producers, are securing sources of wood pellets to fill co-firing needs mandated by recent legislature. This is a prime opportunity for Viridis to secure its position as a leading source of wood pellets and other renewable energy sources,” Harte said.

Commenting on the new appointments, Robertson said, “The retail division of Viridis Merchants has been largely developed by Doug Middleton over the past five years as he has built a solid presence in the northeast US residential space. The addition of Jesse allows us to expand on that to include both the European and Asian markets in both wholesale and retail, which I believe will contribute to the company’s financial results in the 2014.”