March 21, 2012

Oakland-based BrightSource Energy seeks to raise up to $182.5 million in IPO

Mercury News, Dana Hall

Original News Source >

Solar thermal technology startup BrightSource Energy hopes to raise $182.5 million in a long-awaited initial public stock offering, according to an amended S-1 filed with the SEC Wednesday.

The Oakland-based company plans to issue 6.9 million shares, plus up to 1.35 million shares to its underwriters, at a price of $21 to $23 a share. It hopes to trade on the Nasdaq using the symbol BRSE.

BrightSource uses mirrors to concentrate the sun and turn turbines that generate electricity. It’s most advanced

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project is the massive Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System currently under construction on federal land in California’s Mojave Desert. When completed next year, Ivanpah will be the largest solar thermal power plant in the world, generating enough electricity for about 140,000 homes.

NRG Solar invested $300 million in the Ivanpah project, and Google (GOOG) invested $168 million. Utilities PG&E and Southern California Edison have signed long-term contracts to purchase the electricity. BrightSource was also awarded a $1.6 billion loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy.

BrightSource has big plans beyond Ivanpah, and has filed permits to develop three additional solar thermal power plants: Rio Mesa Solar and Hidden Hills Ranch in California and Sandy Valley in Nevada. It is also considering potential projects in the Middle East, northern Africa, South Africa, southern Europe, India and Australia.

BrightSource initially filed its IPO papers in April last year, but the stock market has been choppy.

The company had 365 full-time employees as of the end of last year, mostly in Oakland and Israel. CEO John Woolard has an annual base salary of $445,000 a year.

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