Beacon Power-less: Another clean energy mess
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
With the demise of Beacon Power
, Massachusetts has the dubious distinction of steering scarce state dollars to not one, but two, failed clean energy companies, firms that also pulled in significant federal stimulus grants and loan guarantees.
filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last weekend. Marlborough-based Evergreen Solar
sought relief from creditors in August and is still hashing out objections over the auctioning of its remaining assets.
Tyngsborough-based Beacon secured a $5 million loan from MassDevelopment
, a $24 million federal stimulus grant, and a $43 million US Department of Energy loan guarantee. Granted, that’s a few hundred million shy of the $535 million in federal funding that the bankrupt California solar firm Solyndra
won. But in these tough, tax-averse times, a “few” million is nothing to sneeze at.
The clean energy debacle has supplied Republicans with more brickbats to hurl at President Obama. US Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner
, a Wisconsin Republican, intends to file a bill that would require independent audits
of all Energy Department loan guarantees.
Then there’s the thorny question of campaign contributions. Two Bay State Democrats may join the president in the green power dog house. According to The Weekly Standard
, US Rep. Niki Tsongas
and Attorney General Martha Coakley received campaign contributions
from Beacon Power CEO F. William Capp
. (Tyngsboro is in Tsongas’s district.) The Beacon Power chief also donated to the president’s 2008 campaign. Other company officials also gave money to either Tsongas or Coakley. The company’s chief lobbyist was a former aide to the late senator Ted Kennedy.
Beacon Power’s claim to fame is its flywheel energy storage technology
that captures excess power from electrical grids and returns it to the grids on demand. The process is viewed as the next step in capturing and storing electricity from intermittent energy sources like wind and solar.
But Beacon Power was not an attractive prospect
for investors, which contributed to its stock prices tumbling to below $1 per share. That development forced Nasdaq to banish the firm from the stock exchange.
Massachusetts still hopes to collect on the more than $3 million outstanding on the state’s investment, according to the Boston Herald
. Unlike Evergreen and Solyndra, Beacon Power plans to reorganize and continues its manufacturing operations
. The state loan also used those assets as collateral, the Herald
Under the terms of the Beacon Power loan, the federal government is also first in line to get its debts repaid. That’s not the case with Solyndra: its private sector creditors get first dibs. (Stay tuned for more embarrassing revelations on Solyndra as the Energy Department inspector general testifies
on Capitol Hill today.)
If these losses weren’t bad enough, there could be even bigger financial meltdowns on the energy sector horizon. The Obama administration has distributed billions in loan guarantees to nuclear power companies.
“We have one loan guarantee for $8.3 billion for a nuclear reactor – that could be far worse if there were a default,” a fiscal analyst told The Christian Science Monitor. --GABRIELLE GURLEY BEACON HILL
State officials took oversight of the Merrimack Special Education Collaborative
, the Lowell Sun reports
The Senate and House approved new legislative district maps
and sent the plan to the governor, the Lowell Sun reports
.Mo Cunningham mulls over
our insider political culture in his latest CommonWealth
Herogate? Some witnesses say
the Boston firefighter credited with catching a six-year-old dropped from a third-story window of a burning Roxbury building wasn’t the only one to snag Xavier Lara
, and that a building resident deserves to share the limelight with Lieutenant Glenn McGillivray
, who received a department service award and appeared on the Ellen DeGeneres
selectmen are balking at proposed aquaculture regulations that would restrict shellfish farming in shallow tidal waters
The new billing alert system in the Brockton water department
-- which has in the past sent bills of several hundred thousand dollars to residents -- worked like a charm
when it caught the bill for Brockton High School
for $678,000, about $650,000 higher than normal.Peter Gelzinis
gives a big hug
to Felix Arroyo
Because that’s just what they do, US News & World Report
has the top 10 list of best cities to occupy
, with the rankings based on a mix of youth, culture, income inequality, and business. Meanwhile, members of the Occupy Wall Street
finance committee (there has to be a joke in there somewhere) announced they have collected nearly $500,000 in online and cash donations
and sent some of the surplus to support other Occupy movements around the country. NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON Roll Call reports
a web sales tax fight
is heating up in Washington as pols look for money to reduce the deficit. The Salem News
runs a point
on the Main Street Fairness Act
, which would require online stores to collect sales taxes.Time reports
tax reform is gaining momentum on the Supercommittee.
Also gaining momentum: Complaining
about the Supercommittee. ELECTION 2012 Herman Cain’s
sexual harassment accuser may step forward, Talking Points Memo reports
. Meanwhile, the New York Times reports
one of his accusers received a $35,000 severance payment
from the National Restaurant Association. A new Quinnipiac nationwide poll
shows Cain up 7 points on Mitt Romney
. And speaking of Romney: His son Tagg
may be in business
with three guys who made millions in the $8.5 billion Allen Stanford
Ponzi scheme, or Tagg may be in business with three victims of the $8.5 billion Allen Stanford Ponzi scheme. You decide
’s Super PAC hits the airwaves
reelection campaign’s legal arm works to roll back
Republican-sponsored election laws in battleground states.
The Republican shenanigans may be contributing to a boost in President Obama’s poll numbers.Scott Brown
and Elizabeth Warren “slug it out” in the campaign fundraising push
. MetroWestDaily News
via GateHouse News Service.BUSINESS/ECONOMY Hard Rock International
says it is joining forces with a local developer in Holyoke to build a casino and a hotel, the Worcester Telegram reports
what happened at MF Global
and why it matters.
About that $5 monthly fee that its debit card users were to be hit with, tin-eared Bank of America
goes into Emily Litella
mode, announcing, “never mind.”
It’s bankruptcy filing time -- again
-- for Filene’s Basement
. Employer confidence
in Massachusetts has continued to decline
, sinking to the levels following the dot-com bust
that triggered a recession a decade ago. Some businesses tell Keller@Large
the biggest obstacle in hiring is the cost of health care
.National Grid’s chief
says power outages are a fact of life, the Eagle-Tribune reports
. “We do live in New England and this is what the weather is,” Marcy Reed said. Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno isn’t happy
with Western Massachusetts Electric. Brian McGrory is befuddled over
how NStar honcho Tom May
can be worth $8 million a year. May throws him a curve by returning his call and basically tells him, “Just am.” Rep. Dan Winslow
wants power companies to give customers rebates
for prolonged power outages. Frank McCourt may be coming home
. The former Boston waterfront real estate baron -- under pressure from the fans, Major League Baseball
, and bankruptcy court, not to mention the most expensive divorce settlement in California history -- has finally agreed to sell the Los Angeles Dodgers
.EDUCATION Gov. Deval Patrick
touts the state’s performance on fourth and eighth grade tests, the Lynn Item reports
NPR’s Talk of the Nation
takes a state-by-state look
at how sex education
is taught.HEALTH CARE
The state’s congressional delegation warns that the Obama administration is considering slashing support for Massachusetts hospitals
, the Lowell Sun reports
Census data indicates Massachusetts is the state with the highest percentage of people with health insurance, while Texas comes in last, Governing magazine reports.
The Cape Cod Times suggests “occupying” health care to expose the lack of chronic care facilities on the Cape.
Ridership is at an all-time high, reports the MBTA, which attributes the development to increased job hiring in the region and continued high gasoline prices.
Bridge work begins on Cape Cod’s Bourne and Sagamore spans.
The Herald reports on the opening day of the federal racketeering trial of US Rep. John Tierney’s brother-in-law.
Dan Kennedy writes about a Connecticut reporter fired for plagiarism and opines about “the Romenesko effect” on the careers of young reporters who commit journalism crimes. The blog post has triggered a very interesting comment thread.
Circulation keeps falling at Boston’s two daily newspapers.