DOE grant recipient, flywheel energy storage maker Beacon Power files for bankruptcy

Beacon Power Corp., a manufacturer and developer of flywheel energy storage technology that has received Department of Energy funding, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the U.S. Bankruptcy court in Delaware

November 1, 2011 — Beacon Power Corp., a manufacturer and developer of flywheel energy storage technology that has received Department of Energy funding, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the U.S. Bankruptcy court in Delaware.

In July 2011, Beacon Power inaugurated a 20 MW flywheel energy storage plant in Stephentown, New York. Company revenues from the plant were $525,000 in the second quarter of 2011.

The money for the New York plant came from the DOE in the form of a loan guarantee under the Energy Policy Act of 2005. In 2009, Beacon was offered a loan guarantee of about tune of $43 million to build the plant.

The Stephentown plant uses 200 high-speed flywheels to provide frequency regulation services to the New York grid with zero emissions and no fuel consumption. In June 2008, Beacon Power opened its current headquarters in Tyngsboro, Mass., with financing from Massachusetts state agencies. The facility was intended to support an expansion of the company's operation.

Other recipients have included Solyndra, Inc., which declared bankruptcy in September 2011; Nordic Windpower, USA; Red River Environmental Products; and the Alvin W. Vogtle Electric Generating Plant, a proposed 2,200 MW nuclear power plant.

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 authorized DOE to issue loan guarantees for projects that avoid, reduce, or sequester air pollutants or anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases and employ new or improved technologies as compared to technologies in service in the U.S. at the time the guarantee is issued.

In an October 26, 2009 panel discussion on Capitol Hill, Judith Judson, Director of Regulatory and Market Affairs for Beacon Power, said innovations in electricity storage technologies are evidence that competitive markets are promoting good economic and environmental outcomes for consumers.

"Competitive markets have provided environments that nurture and facilitate innovation, allowing companies like Beacon Power to continue pushing ahead in developing critical new technologies like flywheel energy storage," Judson said. "These technologies will play important roles in meeting future energy demand while ensuring grid reliability."

According to Beacon's own corporate description, Beacon designs, develops and commercializes products and services to support stable, reliable and efficient electricity grid operation. The company's primary business strategy is to build merchant plants and sell turnkey regulation facilities to meet both domestic and international grid requirements using its patented flywheel energy storage technology.

Beacon Power was founded in Woburn, Massachusetts in 1997 as a subsidiary of SatCon Technology Corporation, a maker of alternative energy management systems. The company went public in 2000.

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