Beacon Power receives federal loan guarantee

Guarantee is worth approximately $43 million and will finance development of a facility to manufacture 20-MW flywheel systems.

Beacon Power Corp. (Tyngsboro, Mass.) announced on July 2 that it has received a conditional commitment from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for a loan guarantee of approximately $43 million. The DOE’s offer outlines terms for a loan that would finance more than 60 percent of Beacon’s planned 20-MW flywheel-based energy storage plant to be located in Stephentown, N.Y. The plant, which will provide frequency regulation services, will help stabilize and enhance the performance of the grid. Its emission-free operation will also significantly reduce CO2 levels, as compared to fossil fuel-based regulation methods used today.

The loan, which would be funded by the U.S. Treasury’s Federal Financing Bank, is expected to provide debt financing for 62.5 percent, or $43 million, of the estimated $69 million total project cost. Approximately $50 million of this total cost is direct equipment and facility costs. Beacon’s equity contribution of roughly $26 million will be provided by a combination of cash, in-kind assets, and other eligible project costs. Before the loan can be closed, the DOE’s conditional commitment is subject to negotiation and completion of a number of contracts and conditions.

“We’re extremely pleased by DOE’s decision to issue a conditional commitment to Beacon Power for a loan guarantee for this 20 MW energy storage plant,” said Bill Capp, Beacon president and CEO. “With this anticipated federal funding and expected plant construction, we will make a major transition from development and pilot operation of our flywheel technology to full-scale commercial deployment. For New York initially, and later other regions where plants could be built, it will also signal a dramatic shift to a cleaner, more sustainable method of providing frequency regulation on the grid.”

Senator Edward M. Kennedy said, “Beacon Power’s electricity storage system is exactly the type of technology the nation needs to meet the clean energy goals essential to a safe and sustainable future. With this strong support from the Department of Energy, this ground-breaking company will help lead the way forward.”

Senator John F. Kerry said, “This loan guarantee is an example of how the federal government and Massachusetts technology pioneers like Beacon Power can create a partnership between government and industry to solve the greatest global challenge of the 21st century.”

Congresswoman Niki Tsongas (D-MA) said, “Beacon Power is just the second company in the country to be offered a Department of Energy loan guarantee for innovative clean energy technologies. Their homegrown technology is helping to drive the clean energy revolution across the country, while creating outstanding new clean energy jobs in our community.”

“We would like to thank the Obama Administration, in particular Energy Secretary Chu and his team, and the U.S. Congress for their foresight and dedication in making the loan guarantee program a reality,” Bill Capp added. “This loan guarantee will enable the construction and start-up of our first full-scale commercial plant, and it confirms DOE’s positive role in using energy policy to accelerate the deployment of advanced energy technologies.”

Out of 143 pre-application submissions in late 2007, Beacon’s 20 MW energy storage plant was one of just 16 projects invited to submit a full application for loan guarantee consideration. Of these 16 projects, Beacon’s was the only one selected in the “Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability” category.

Flywheel-based energy storage systems make use, in many instances, of composites. Many flywheel systems are used to store energy produced by wind turbine systems.