GE Solar deal has Oregon origins

Mark Waller and Bridge Works Capital played a critical role in GE's major solar play.

Mark Waller and Bridge Works Capital played a critical role in GE's major solar play.

General Electric on Thursday got business development recruiters nationwide salivating when it announced plans to build the nation's largest solar panel manufacturing plant, launching a high-stakes sweepstakes among states hoping to land the operation.

It's a story economic development officials hopes will end with a new solar plant in Oregon.

But it's also a story that got its start here.

G.E.'s plan is to invest some $600 million in solar, including the acquisition of Arvada, Colo.-based PrimeStar Solar Inc., a thin-film solar panel manufacturer built with Oregon capital.

A group of long-time partners from Lake Oswego and Portland were among the company's initial investors, led by Mark Waller, principal of Lake Oswego-based Bridge Works Capital LLC.

Waller, a co-founder of PrimeStar, served on the company's board since its beginning in 2006 and has been chairman since 2009. He helped drive investors toward an exit with G.E. in the deal that closed on Tuesday.

"It's a wonderful story about a group of local investors who understood the emerging scale of the solar business," he said.

Waller has been financing renewable-energy deals since the mid-80s and learned about PrimeStar's technology through his ongoing relationship with officials at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colo.

Waller said Ken Zweibel, who used to run NREL’s thin-film photovoltaic partnership program and became PrimeStar’s initial chairman and president, introduced him to a group of NREL engineers and scientists who were looking to start a company.

“We went down there to see if there were the makings of a deal,” Waller said.

  • Page 1
  • 2
|View All | 503.219.3438


If you are commenting using a Facebook account, your profile information may be displayed with your comment depending on your privacy settings. By leaving the 'Post to Facebook' box selected, your comment will be published to your Facebook profile in addition to the space below.