Brightsource Sets Price for IPO

Concentrating solar developer BrightSource Energy set the price range for its IPO, signaling it will happen soon.

The company is looking to raise $183 million at share prices ranging from $21-$23. It will trade under the ticker, BRSE.

It filed for the IPO last April with a $250 million target, but now BrightSource says it will make up the difference from private investors Alstom ($75 million) and Caithness Development ($10 million).

Founded in 2004, the Oakland, California-based company raised $201.7 million in early 2011, after raising $176 million in 2010. It has completed just one project – a 6 MW solar plant in Israel.

Its big project is the world’s largest solar thermal plant, the $2.2 billion Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, for which it received $168 million from Google. The US Department of Energy (DOE) gave BrightSource a $1.6 billion loan guarantee for the 392 MW solar plant, to be spread over 3500 acres of public land in California’s Mohave Desert.

Besides Google, investors include Keating Capital, VantagePoint Venture Partners, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Alstom, CalSTRS, Chevron Technology Ventures, BP Technology Ventures and NRG Solar, a subsidiary of NRG Energy (NYSE:NRG).

A successful IPO would be an important milestone for concentrating solar because the industry has experienced setbacks in recent months.

While concentrating solar emerged as the low cost alternative to solar PV, prices have dropped so much for traditional PV that many approved large concentrating solar plants have switched back to PV.

Competitors Stirling Energy Systems and Solar Millennium recently had to declare bankruptcy.

Brightsource uses solar tower technology with energy storage – a huge field of 170,000 solar heliostats focus sunlight on a water-filled boiler that sits atop a 459-high tower. The steam drives an electric turbine.

Besides the obvious advantages of energy storage, it allows less acreage to be used. That’s important, because it’s the subject of lawsuits based on environmental concerns.

Last year, DOE’s Bureau of Land Management halted construction on two of the three Ivanpah sites because it would disrupt the habitat of more endangered desert tortoises than first suspected.

The first phase is about 25% completed.

Sounds like a risky proposition, but you can follow its story and its affect on the industry when you subscribe to Progressive Investor, which covers solar stocks.

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