Beacon Power Corp (Nasdaq:BCON) received a $5 million grant from the state of Pennsylvania to support construction of its Hazle Township project, a 20 MW flywheel energy storage system.
The company seems to be an exception to the rule in Pennsylvania, which is otherwise pulling back on support for renewable energy.
Beacon will use the funds, along with a $24-million Smart Grid stimulus grant from the US Department of Energy (DOE), to finance the $53 million utility-scale flywheel project.
Flywheel energy storage systems convert excess electrical power from the grid into spinning, rotational force. When electricity demand spikes, the energy from the massive, rotating flywheels is then converted back into electricity. The process is known as frequency regulation, and it reduces the need for additional generating sources.
Beacon’s business strategy is to supply frequency regulation services from its own plants and to sell systems directly to utilities or grid operators.
In July, the company inaugurated its first 20 MW facility in Stephentown, New York, which also was supported by DOE funding.
The facility’s 200, 2,800-pound flywheels provide fast-response frequency regulation to the New York grid with zero emissions and no fuel consumption.
Beacon has also leased a 1 MW system to NorthWestern Energy (NYSE: NWE) to use in conjunction with a natural-gas fired power plant.
Beacon also installed demonstration system at a wind farm in Tehachapi, California to levelize the wind power that is fed into the California grid.
Pennsylvania Beating Back Clean Energy
It’s interesting that Beacon received funding from Pennsylvania during a time when renewable energy development in the state is threatened.
Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future (PennFuture) just launched a campaign "to protect clean energy and Pennsylvania jobs" because "word from the Republican Governor’s administration is that the state Department of Environmental Protection’s Office of Energy and Technology Deployment is set to be disbanded, along with other clean energy-related agencies."
PennFuture also says executive agencies in the state will be banned from entering into contracts for clean energy.
Jan Jarrett, PennFuture’s president and CEO, says more than 106,000 jobs rely on the clean energy industry in the state. The group hopes to work with clean energy businesses in the state to counter those threats.
"Our campaign will enlist the clean energy businesses that have built more than 4,000 solar installations, 16 large wind farms, the many farmers who are installing biodigesters, and the businesses that are installing effective energy and money saving measures. We will also engage concerned citizens and clean energy consumers across the Commonwealth, many of whom have personally invested in renewable energy and energy efficiency," says Christina Simeone, director of the PennFuture Energy Center for Enterprise and the Environment.
Governor Corbet’s priorities are coal, natural gas and nuclear. Earlier this year, Pennsylvania handcuffed oil and gas inspectors by requiring them to clear all enforcement activities with political appointees.
Also this year, the Susquehanna River – which provides drinking water for over six million people – was named the most endangered river in the US because of damage caused by natural gas fracking.