Battery Storage Developer Underwritten by Crony Capitalism
MetroWest Daily News guest columnist Barbara Durkin finds a “‘Confluence of influence’ behind state energy grants” (12/13/13). Durkin finds that
Project merit does not appear to be the driver of the renewables’ sector in Massachusetts. The money trail reveals crony capitalists moving through revolving doors while they collect public subsidies.
In this case, part of the funding for the manufacturing plant in Marlborough for Ambri, the experimental liquid metal battery, is coming from electricity rate-payers through the Mass Clean Energy Center. The electricity surcharges are being added to the millions raised by the likes of Bill Gates, Khosla Ventures and “French oil and gas giant Total. The firm raised $15 million for its Series B round in May 2012″ according to Sara Castellanos “Renewable energy firm Ambri opens manufacturing plant in Marlborough” (11/7/13).
Phil Guidice, the CEO of Ambri, is a confluence of influence and former chair of the Massachusetts Renewable Energy Trust, now part of the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center funding Ambri.Guidice has served as commissioner of the Department of Energy, and as Undersecretary of Energy of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. Guidice was appointed by former U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu to the U.S. DOE’s Energy Efficiency and Renewables Advisory Committee.Phil Guidice led the team that invested over $54 million in federal stimulus dollars in energy efficiency and renewable energy projects in Massachusetts. Prior to joining the Patrick administration, Guidice was senior vice president of EnerNOC, which was awarded 20 percent of the state’s ARRA stimulus for a $10 million contract, by Guidice’s energy department.
Ambri’s prototype development facility is expected to create 60 jobs, and lead to the development of a full scale production plant in 2015, employing 125 (according to Castellanos). Meanwhile two prototypes will be deployed in 2014 or 2015, one on Cape Cod and the other in Hawaii for First Wind. The previous battery installation of First Wind was destroyed in a fire in 2012.