Deal ensures Energy Department will recover majority of Beacon loan

Rockland said it plans to rehire the “a majority” of Beacon’s employees. The firm also plans to help finance a second energy storage plant in Pennsylvania, which will be funded in part by a $24.1 million Energy Department grant.

"We are excited to work with the Beacon team to continue developing, constructing, and operating fast-response energy storage technology,” Scott Harlan, managing partner at Rockland, said in a statement. “Beacon’s facilities will help maintain the integrity and stability of the electric grid, while enabling increased renewable resource deployment.”

The Energy Department praised the agreement Wednesday, arguing that vindicates the administration’s investment in the project.

"Rockland Capital's purchase of Beacon Power and its Stephentown subsidiary means that the Department stands to recover more than 70 percent of our investment, and reaffirms that this is a valuable project with important technology,” Energy Department spokesman Damien LaVera said.

“Rockland's commitment to this project highlights the need to continue to make investments in innovative, commercially viable projects that can help America compete for the clean energy jobs of tomorrow.”

The acquisition is bit of much-needed good news for the Energy Department, which has been pummeled by Republicans over the collapse of Solyndra. The California solar firm declared bankruptcy last year after receiving a $535 million loan guarantee from the administration in 2009.

Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee have spent the last year investigating the Solyndra loan guarantee, alleging that the administration backed the company to please campaign donors to President Obama.

The Solyndra investigation has found no evidence that the loan was issued for political reasons. But it has uncovered details that are uncomfortable for the administration, such as the fact that officials questioned the wisdom of backing the company.