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DOE-backed Beacon Power finds buyer post-bankruptcy

Flywheel grid storage company Beacon Power has been acquired for $30.5 million in a transaction that will return about 70 percent of a government loan.

Beacon Power's flywheel storage system is built around these 7-foot-tall flywheels that can store and release bursts of power to stabilize the grid.
Beacon Power

Beacon Power, which had received a government loan and then went bankrupt, has found a buyer, in a deal that will recoup some of the loaned money.

The flywheel energy storage company today said it has reached a deal with private equity firm Rockland Capital to buy most of its assets for $30.5 million. That includes Beacon Power's intellectual property around flywheel grid storage and a New York energy storage project partially financed by a Department of Energy loan guarantee.

If the deal is finalized, the Energy Department stands to recover 70 percent of the loan, according to Energy Department spokesperson Damien LaVera. The acquisition calls for Rockland Capital to provide a promissory note to the Energy Department and other guarantees, according to a Beacon Power representative.

Two years ago Beacon Power received a $43 million loan guarantee to build a 20-megawatt flywheel power plant, the largest energy storage facility to use this technology. The plant in Stephentown, N.Y., continues to earn revenue by providing grid regulation services to the local grid operator.

The 200 flywheels at the plant, built around 7-foot-tall spinner cylinders in a vacuum, feed and absorb quick bursts of power for a few seconds or minutes to maintain a steady frequency on the grid. They replace natural-gas plants.

In October, Beacon Power declared bankruptcy after it was unable to earn sufficient revenue from the plant to meet terms of the loan. The Energy Department loan guarantee program also provided financing to Solyndra, the infamous failed solar company that went bankrupt after receiving $535 million in loans.

Through the transaction with Rockland Capital, Beacon Power will now become a private company and the majority of employees will be rehired. Rockland Capital intends to develop a second planned 20-megawatt flywheel project in Pennsylvania.