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Beacon Power: Your New Obama “Green Energy” Bankruptcy

This one’s a bargain at only $43 million.

During the marvelous week-ending ritual known as the “Friday Night Document Dump” last week, the Obama Administration announced that it was ordering a 60-day independent review of the Energy Department’s loan programs, many of which are looking rather shaky.  One of the biggest taxpayer loans was made to the now-infamous Solyndra, a company that already bought the solar farm.

Just two days after the Administration announced its review of Energy Department loans, another “green energy” company dropped dead.  This one is called Beacon Power Corporation, an energy storage company based out of Massachusetts.

Reuters describes Beacon’s technology as follows:

Beacon Power developed new technology that allows its energy storage plant to rapidly absorb electricity from New York’s power grid when demand drops, and inject energy back into the grid when demand increases.

The technology is designed to help more solar and wind power — which is intermittent — be used by power grids, which need stable power to remain reliable.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission passed a new rule on October 20 requiring power markets to pay more for frequency regulation services, such as those provided by Beacon — a major victory for the company.

Well, apparently not that major of a victory, since they filed for bankruptcy on Sunday.

There’s some good news: Beacon Power only got $43 million of your money, their plant is still operating, and unlike Solyndra, the United States taxpayer enjoys “senior debt” status, which means we’ll get paid back before private investors.  (Amazingly, and possibly illegally, Solyndra’s last-ditch round of private investors were given “senior debt” status above most of the $535 million in government loans received by President Obama’s top contributors.) 

Beacon Power gave generously to Democrats, although not on the scale of Obama’s good friends at Solyndra.  The Daily Caller tallies up the return on their political investment:

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Beacon Power president and CEO F. William “Bill” Capp donated $500 to Obama’s presidential campaign. He also donated to Democratic Massachusetts Rep. Niki Tsongas, and to the failed Massachusetts Senate campaign of Democrat Martha Coakley, whom Republican Scott Brown defeated in a special election for the late Sen. Ted Kennedy’s open Senate seat.

Beacon government relations director Matthew E. Polimeno donated $750 to Rep. Tsongas and $250 to Coakley. Beacon Power CFO James M. Spiezio also donated $250 to Coakley.

Through their companies, these donors were rewarded with $17,200 of Energy Department funds for every dollar they donated to Democrats.

(Emphasis mine.)  Not a bad profit on those political “resources” they purchased.  It was awfully nice of you taxpayers to provide it!

Bloomberg News relates Beacon Power CEO F. William Capp’s sad requiem for his corporate dream: “The current economic and political climate, the financing terms mandated by DOE, and Beacon’s recent delisting notice from Nasdaq have together severely restricted Beacon’s access to additional investments through the equity market.”  It’s tough when the “current political climate” prevents a nice green energy company from sucking down more taxpayer subsidies to stay afloat.

Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL), who has been heading up the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s investigation of epic Energy Department failures, called Beacon Power “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.”

Cheer up, Rep. Stearns!  At least we stand a good chance of getting our $43 million back from Beacon Power, and the only thing we’ll lose is the opportunity cost of whatever the people who actually earned that money might have done with it.

Written By

John Hayward began his blogging career as a guest writer at Hot Air under the pen name "Doctor Zero," producing a collection of essays entitled Doctor Zero: Year One. He is a great admirer of free-market thinkers such as Arthur Laffer, Milton Friedman, and Thomas Sowell. He writes both political and cultural commentary, including book and movie reviews. An avid fan of horror and fantasy fiction, he has produced an e-book collection of short horror stories entitled Persistent Dread. John is a former staff writer for Human Events. He is a regular guest on the Rusty Humphries radio show, and has appeared on numerous other local and national radio programs, including G. Gordon Liddy, BattleLine, and Dennis Miller.

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