Beacon Power receives environmental approval for flywheel plant

The 20-MW frequency regulation plant in Stephentown, N.Y., will use flywheel technology to store energy.

Beacon Power Corp. (Tyngsboro, Mass.), a company that designs and develops advanced products and services to support more stable, reliable and efficient electricity grid operation, announced that the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has completed its formal environmental review of Beacon's proposed 20-MW frequency regulation plant in Stephentown, N.Y., and issued a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI). In its determination, the DOE said that the plant "will not have a significant effect on the human environment."

This completes the environmental analysis of the project site that began in July 2008, when the Stephentown Planning Board approved the environmental aspects of the project, by issuing its own Negative Clearance and Determination of Non-Significance for the project.

Beacon's proposed 20-MW plant would provide frequency regulation services by absorbing energy when it is abundant, storing it in a flywheel energy storage system, and injecting it back as necessary to help the grid maintain electricity frequency within a desired range (60 cycles/second being the target). Flywheels have been identified as a good candidate for composites application. Beacon's plant will not directly produce greenhouse gas emissions or other air pollutants, nor will it directly consume fuel, as do conventional fossil fuel-powered generators that provide regulation today.

Under terms of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), all federal agencies must consider the potential environmental impacts of their proposed actions. The NEPA evaluation comprises reviews of 18 potential environmental impacts, including public health and safety, air quality, wetlands, threatened or endangered species, natural resources, and geology and soil. The DOE is in the due diligence stage for a possible loan guarantee for Beacon's project; this FONSI determination means that the Company's application need not be delayed by the type of time-consuming Environmental Impact Statement that is sometimes mandated for projects being reviewed.

"This finding by DOE as to the minimal environmental impacts of our proposed 20-megawatt frequency regulation plant is a major step forward," said Bill Capp, Beacon president and CEO. "As the first loan guarantee finalist to complete the NEPA assessment through the Loan Guarantee Program Office, we look forward to DOE's completion of the remainder of the loan process in the near future."