By Marty Niland, energyNow!
Beacon Power, an energy storage company that received a $43 million Department of Energy loan guarantee last year, has filed for bankruptcy.
The move by the Tyngsboro, MA, based company has drawn additional criticism of the DOE loan guarantee program, which is already under heavy scrutiny for its $535 million loan guarantee to failed solar panel maker Solyndra. “This latest failure is a sharp reminder that DOE has fallen well short of delivering the stimulus jobs that were promised, and now taxpayers find themselves millions of more dollars in the hole,” said Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL), who is leading the House investigation into the Solyndra loan.
Beacon manufactures flywheels that can pull energy from an electric grid at times of low demand, store it, and send it back into the grid when there is more demand for electricity. It’s been seen as a way to manage electricity generated by renewable sources like wind and solar.
In addition to the DOE loan guarantee for construction of its plant in Stephentown, NY, the company received $24 million grant from the DOE and another $5 million from the state of Pennsylvania to build a plant in Hazle, PA.
In its filing, Beacon states that it is losing money in its operations and is unable to generate investment capital, citing the current economic and political climate, the financing terms mandated by DOE, and the recent delisting of its stock on the NASDAQ exchange.
DOE spokesman Damien LaVera tells energyNOW! that the company has drawn down only $39 million of the $43 million loan guarantee for the Stephentown project, which remains open and is generating revenue. He said the guarantee includes “many protections for taxpayers.” LaVera also noted that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved a rule this month that compensates power providers based on how quickly they can send electricity to the grid, not just the amount. He says that could increase the amount of money the flywheel plant brings in.