UPDATE 1-Beacon Power finds buyer, Energy Dept sees return

Mon Feb 6, 2012 4:28pm EST

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* Rockland Capital buys plant, assets for $30.5 mln

* Energy Dept said could recover more than 70 pct of loan

WASHINGTON Feb 6 (Reuters) - The bankrupt energy storage company Beacon Power Corp has found a buyer, a deal that the could allow the U.S. Energy Department to recover 70 percent of the money loaned to the company under a much-criticized funding program.

Beacon Power used the $39.5 million loan guarantee to help fund a $69 million, 20-megawatt flywheel energy storage plant in Stephentown, New York.

Rockland Capital, a private equity firm, bought the plant and most of the company's other assets for $30.5 million.

"Under the terms of the deal, the Department stands to recover more than 70 percent of the taxpayer's investment," said Damien LaVera, a spokesman for the Energy Department.

After the bankruptcy of Solyndra last year with its $500 million in loan guarantees, Republicans criticized President Barack Obama for the loan program that they say aims to pick winners and losers in the sector.

In another high profile failure, Ener1, which planned to make electric car batteries on a $118.5 million Energy Department grant, filed for bankruptcy last month.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee has been investigating the loans for more than a year.

The White House will soon unveil its own review of the Energy Department's portfolio. It commissioned Wall Street veteran Herb Allison to conduct an independent review of the program.

The case is Beacon Power Corp, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Delaware, No. 11-13450.

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