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Monday, October 24, 2011

Bloom Fuel Cells back in the News

One quick note:  We are on the road this week, and may have trouble keeping up with daily updates.  We'll try but by Thursday we'll be back in town and on schedule.  Thanks for your patience.  Please send us lots of comments and suggested stories while we are traveling.  That will help a lot.

Now, we catch with an interesting story from Greentechmedia on Bloom's fuel cell deal in Delaware.  As Greentechmedia points out, this is Bloom's biggest deal yet, but one that might get very expensive for Delaware residents.  The costs for the factory and, of course, the energy coming out of those fuel cells, will be born by the utility's customers.

However, there are new jobs and taxes flowing out of the deal as well, and Bloom has some pedigree investors and board members.  Certainly, the overall press on Bloom, and their boxes, have been positive, and Delaware enjoys a healthy reputation for being a good place to do business.

Are you from Delaware?  If so, we'd love to hear from you on this project.

The link:

A very interesting part of the story:  "...But can Bloom’s fuel cells compete with the natural gas-fired power plants that now serve the grid? That’s a complicated question, involving differences in cost per watt (gas turbines are still cheaper), the cleanliness of emissions (Bloom’s fuel cells are much cleaner, though they still emit CO2), the potential to capture waste heat for extra benefit (Bloom’s fuel cells don’t, while other gas-fired systems do), and the extra-complicated question of whether or not Bloom’s fuel cells are a “green” energy source. Bloom will have to address all these questions if it wants to crack open the long-awaited, still-nascent fuel cell market.
The Tuesday decision by the Delaware Public Service Commission opens the door for Bloom Energy to start raising funds to finance the project. The 30-megawatt project, which could grow to as much as 50 megawatts, is an order of magnitude larger than Bloom’s biggest projects so far, with California customers such as Google, eBay, Adobe and AT&T, as well as Bloom’s pilot projects with California utilities Pacific Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison andTennessee’s EPB.
Bloom hasn’t put a price tag on the project yet, but it has touted the potential economic benefits for Delaware -- up to 900 jobs at its factory and an estimated $300 million in annual economic activity. That’s boosted project backers against critics who worry that Bloom’s projects won’t come off in time or on budget. One conservative critic has testified that the cost to Delmarva ratepayers could reach as high as $3 to $4 a month if Bloom and the utility can’t maximize the value of their “Bloom Electrons” in markets for renewable power. For its part, Bloom has agreed to pay Delaware a fine as high as $41 million if it fails to build the factory -- a move one commissioner said was critical to Tuesday’s approval."...
Note the potential fine to Bloom for failing to follow through and build the factory.  They certainly put some skin in the game.
We think Bloom and the State struck a good balance of risk with possible rewards--economic and ecological rewards.  A good expansion for the company to the East, and a good new employer in town, with up to 900 factory jobs alone, for Delaware.  We wish them both lots of luck in making this deal work for the citizens and electric consumers in  Delaware.  

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