News and analysis about renewable energy in California.

BrightSource Leaving The Door Open For More Capital

BrightSource's Ivanpah project | Photo: Don Barrett /Flickr/Creative Commons License

Oakland-based BrightSource Energy, which enjoyed an infusion of $83.6 million in venture capital investment last month, has left a metaphorical window open in its SEC filings in case another $50 million or so comes their way sometime soon. In the "Notice of Exempt Offering of Securities" the company filed yesterday covering the $83 million in securities the company sold in October, BrightSource lists the total offering amount of the equity on hand as $130,152,960 -- raising the possibility of another $46.6 million in additional cash inflow for the solar thermal company.

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BrightSource spokeswoman Kristin Hunter told ReWire that the $46 million cushion in the filing was an administrative convenience to facilitate near-term capital development. "We've raised $83 million from our current investors with very strong support and participation," Hunter told ReWire. "Our investors are very pleased with the progress at Ivanpah, and see unique value in our technology as a clean and reliable power source."

Last month's new round of financing was led by Alstom and VantagePoint Capital Partners, along with Draper Fisher Jurvetson, CalSTRS, DBL Investors, Goldman Sachs, Chevron Technology Ventures, and BP Ventures.

These investors are likely to take heart in what could be construed as consolidation in BrightSource's project portfolio in recent days, as the CPUC recently approved just two of five BrightSource power purchase agreements with Southern California Edison, prompting the company to agree to a leaner development schedule than it had planned. With utility-scale concentrating solar struggling to compete in the market with photovoltaic power, CPUC's approval of just BrightSource's proposed Rio Mesa and Sonoran West power plants, concentrating the solar company's focus on the development of thermal storage, may reassure investors nervous about the possibility of overextension.

BrightSource's proposed Siberia plant in the Mojave Desert near Ludlow was knocked onto the back burner by the CPUC decision, and one of the Rio Mesa plant's two units must now secure new power purchase agreements to propose to the CPUC. The company is also working on its proposed Hidden Hills plant near Tecopa, and recently acquired the Palen solar power project from bankrupt firm Solar Millennium.

(A hat tip to Katie Fehrenbacher at GigaOm for noting the discrepancy in the SEC filing.)

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About the Author

Chris Clarke is a natural history writer and environmental journalist currently at work on a book about the Joshua tree. He lives in Joshua Tree.
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