Beacon Power Corp. was joined today by state and local officials at a formal groundbreaking event in Stephentown, New York, signaling the start of construction for the nation’s first full-scale 20-megawatt flywheel frequency regulation plant. Initial construction on the plant will start this month, with full construction expected to begin in late first quarter of 2010. The plant is to be completed in 16 to 18 months.

The company’s business strategy is to commercialize its patented flywheel energy storage technology to support stable, reliable and efficient electricity grid operation. Beacon Power’s technology is intended to perform frequency regulation services on the grid. Frequency regulation is an essential grid service that is performed by maintaining a tight balance between electricity supply and demand.

Beacon’s 20-megawatt plant has been designed to provide frequency regulation services by absorbing electricity from the grid when there is too much, and storing it as kinetic energy in a matrix of flywheel systems. When there is not enough power to meet demand, the flywheels inject energy back into the grid, thus helping to maintain proper electricity frequency (60 cycles per second).

Thanks to their ability to recycle electricity efficiently and act as ’shock absorbers’ to the grid, Beacon’s flywheel plants will also help support the integration of greater amounts of renewable, but intermittent, wind and solar power resources. Unlike conventional fossil fuel-powered generators that provide frequency regulation, flywheel plants will not consume fuel or pollute the environment.