Bloom Energy needs Delaware utility to flourish

It’s not a done deal yet, but Governor Jack Markell says he has 15-hundred reasons why Delaware wants Bloom Energy to set up shop at the old Chrysler site in Newark.

“The outcome could be up to 1,500 new jobs – getting people to work right here in Delaware supplying the company and building the Energy Servers that can power homes and businesses around the country,” said Governor Jack Markell. “It’s always been true that Delaware works best when it works together, and that was true in how Bloom came to choose Delaware.”

Markell also credits Delmarva Power’s interest in becoming a Bloom Energy customer for the California-based fuel cell maker’s choice. The state’s major utility company is proposing to facilitate a 30MW fuel cell installation.

But first, the state has to clear a couple hurdles before the Bloom deal can move forward. The first being legislative approval from the General Assembly. The Governor’s office says the legislature is still discussing sponsorships, but adds the measure needs to be passed and signed by June 30th.

The second hurdle — regulatory approval from the Public Service Commission (PSC).

“Both of which need to happen really for the Bloom economic development plan to happen,” said Delmarva spokesperson Bridget Shelton. “Bloom has made it clear that its financing really is contingent on the utility partnership being part of the entire package.”

The partnership also helps Delmarva meet Delaware’s clean energy goals. Recently passed legislation requires 25 percent of the state’s energy supply come from cleaner sources by 2025, and teaming up with Bloom, Shelton says, is a surge in the right direction.

“Currently our renewable portfolio is largely comprised of solar and wind, and if the sun shines we have energy and if the wind blows we have energy, but as we know, the sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow. Fuel cells, on the other hand, are more predictable,” said Shelton.

And 30MW of predictability is sizeable. Shelton says on average 1MW of electricity can power 800-1000 homes. Going by those numbers, 30MW could then power as many as 30-thousand homes, but at a cost. In addition to the renewable benefits, Shelton says the price tag for meeting Delaware’s clean energy standards amounts to an extra $0.70 per month for Delmarva Power customers.

Compared to a battery that always runs, Bloom Energy’s fuel cells convert fuel or air into electricity through an environmentally-friendly electro-chemical reaction, not combustion, according to a “how it works” video on the company’s website.

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