Archive for the ‘Bloom Energy’ Category

Guest Post

Please read the following guest post by Lindsay Leveen, a frequent contributor to CRI’s blog. He blogs at greenexplored.com. In this post, he compares how certain companies are using new technologies to reduce energy costs and usage in its productivity. He believes Mercedes-Benz did things the right way, and AT&T…not so much.

Mercedes is Green – AT&T is Gangrene
by Lindsay Leveen
Most large corporations now have sustainability initiatives and most now issue annual sustainability reports. Also many of these large firms hire high price PR firms to broadcast the message of the firm’s greenness. There is a significant amount of greenwashing going on in press releases. In these releases the firms claim to be green when in fact they are gangrene. I think we all consider BP to be in this category when they claimed to be beyond petroleum and yet caused the largest oil spill in US history. BP has pretty much dropped their Beyond Petroleum and is concentrating on cleaning up the Gulf coast.

In this blog I will analyze two companies and their claims of greening their operations. Both companies are large and both companies chose to use expensive fuel cells to affect their intended greening of their operations.

The first company is Mercedes the high quality auto company. Mercedes chose to change out 72 propane fueled forklift trucks in their plant in Tuscaloosa Alabama to run on hydrogen powered fuel cells. Mercedes teamed with Plug Power and Air Products and Chemicals for the project. I did a mass and heat balance comparing the carbon dioxide emissions of the two alternates available to Mercedes. Their first option was to have bulk propane delivered by truck to their plant and then fill the fuel tanks of the forklifts with this liquid petroleum gas. I used the basis that each forklift uses 15 gallons a day of propane and the plant is in operation 360 days per year.

Air Products produces hydrogen in New Orleans from natural gas and liquefies the hydrogen using electricity. Accounting for the carbon foot print of the natural gas, the electricity, and the diesel fuel to haul the liquid hydrogen from New Orleans to Tuscaloosa, I have estimated that compared with propane Mercedes has lessened its carbon footprint for the 72 forklifts by an approximate total of 1,700 tons per year. No doubt Mercedes will pay much more for the forklifts powered by fuel cells and no doubt they will pay more for the hydrogen fuel than they would pay for propane. Mercedes gets the Green Machine’s nod of approval for this project. Air Products and Plug Power can also rightly claim they enabled Mercedes to lessen its carbon footprint.

AT&T is my example of a company that thought it was greening its operations by installing fuel cells but actually increased its carbon footprint as well as its emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and increased its toxic solid waste. Bloom Energy managed to convince AT&T to become Bloom’s largest non-utility company for the famous Boxes to generate onsite electricity. AT&T uses Fleishman Hillard, a world class PR firm, to positively position AT&T in the press. AT&T and Bloom had joint a press release to announce the event of AT&T installing 17.1 megawatts of Bloom Boxes. This is a very large amount of power generation and at a cost of $9 million per megawatt the whole program required an initial investment of over $150 million. Of course the Federal Government and the state of California paid as much as half of the $150 million in the form of tax credits and grants. The cost of the project is one of my beefs but the dirtiness of the Bloom Boxes is my real concern.

I have previously reported based on the public filing of the permit application in Delaware each megawatt hour of power generated by a Bloom Box emits 884 pounds of CO2. The level of CO2 emissions that the US EPA reports for power purchased from the grid in California for the year 2010 is only 681 pounds per megawatt hour. Hence AT&T will increase emissions from 681 pounds of CO2 to 884 pounds of CO2 for each megawatt hour they use or by some 30%.

Also based on the Delaware application Bloom submitted, one can calculate that the 17.1 megawatts of Bloom boxes will emit 8.2 pounds a day of Volatile Organic Compounds and will require over 3,600 pounds a year of solid toxic waste to be hauled to hazardous waste disposal sites. This is dirty energy that AT&T is now self-generating.

Fleishman Hillard acting on behalf of AT&T and Bloom positioned this project very differently in getting the following into MSN Money: “Bloom Boxes contain stacked fuel cells that convert air and natural gas into electricity through a clean electrochemical process. Use of this power reduces carbon emissions by approximately 50 percent compared to the grid and virtually eliminates all SOx, NOx, and other harmful smog forming particulate emissions.”

Given the degree of greenwashing going on, I think the US needs an Engineering General that places a warning on the Bloom Box that states “WARNING – you can fuel some of the people some of the time but you cannot fuel all of the people all of the time with the contents of this box.” If the Tobacco Industry has the Surgeon General keeping them honest, then the Solid Oxide Fuel Cell industry needs the Engineering General to do likewise.



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After 80 days since the lawsuit was filed, Governor Markell and the Public Service Commission have finally responded. Attorneys for both parties are arguing that since Fuel Cell Inc. has not actually made an attempt to do business in Delaware with its fuel cell technologies, they therefore have no right to complain about not being able to do business.

Then again, if the state had not shut out all competitors as soon as they decided they were going to award Bloom Energy the 21 year contract, perhaps outside businesses would have made an attempt to do business. Perhaps they saw the actions of the Legislature and decided investing in Delaware wasn’t worth it if they weren’t going to have a shot at getting business. To be fair, we will never know.
Additionally, from the News Journal:

“The lawsuit claims the Bloom deal requires one class of Delaware residents, Delmarva Power customers, to pay higher rates. This, the plaintiffs claimed, violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution’s 14th Amendment.The state and PSC argued it does not. All Delaware utilities are subject to renewable energy purchase requirements, they argued. The fact that Delmarva is the only electric distribution company governed by the Delaware PSC does not amount to discrimination, they argue.”

John Nichols, the other plaintiff, has said making Delmarva Power ratepayers pay more to subsidize the fuel cells aka “energy servers” is unfair because it singles them out for payment. The government is saying that since all utilities are subject to being required to buy renewable energy, it’s only a matter of when, not if, that particular utility company is chosen.

Don’t forget Bloom Energy still has about $530 million in subsidies, which they get even IF the contract is cancelled for any reason. THIS IS GUARANTEED MONEY. The thought of having the joy of seeing another utility company push higher rates on consumers to subsidize this technology does not make our hearts flutter here at CRI.

read the article: http://delonline.us/NgREjl

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Some of you have probably thought to yourselves sometime recently, “whatever happened to the lawsuit against Governor Markell?” After accusing us of being a right-wing think tank who opposes jobs for the middle class, Team Markell has asked for an extension of time to respond to the Cause of Action Lawsuit. No official word on whether the five named members of the Public Service Commission have responded to the suit, but we believe they too have asked for an extension to review the lawsuit. None of them commented on the case at the time it was filed.

Additionally, Mr. Nichols filed an appeal of the Coastal Zone Industrial Control Board’s (CZICB) decision last month to deny him standing to pursue a grievance against Bloom Energy. His court date against them will be in September. A win for John means the CZICB will have to re-hear John’s case. A win for the CZICB means the decision in June will stand, and no further challenges can be made.

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John Nichols, the plaintiff involved in the suit against Governor Markell and five members of the Public Service Commission, has filed a suit in New Castle County Superior Court against the Coastal Zone Industrial Control Board (CZICB). This is in direct challenge to the CZICB’s rejection of John’s allowance for standing in the case. The board ruled 4-3 around 10:30 AM on June 13th that John had standing, but at 4 pm on the same day voted 5-0 with 2 abstentions to say John didn’t have standing after all. The debate centers on whether John can be considered an “aggrieved” person since Bloom’s “energy servers” have not actually been built yet. John’s argument is that since these boxes, based on studies and evidence presented at the hearing, WOULD harm the environment and Delmarva Power ratepayers, he will be directly harmed by the CZICB’s decision to deny him standing. If the Superior Court finds in John’s favor, the CZICB would be required to go back and review the case based on the science of the “energy servers”, and John would be considered to be an aggrieved individual in this case.

A copy of the complaint:





V. CA. N0. N12A-07-







Appellant John A. Nichols (“Niohols”) hereby takes appeal pursuant to  Del. C. § 7008

and Superior Court Civil Rule 72 from the decision announced by the State Coastal Zone

Industrial Control Board (“B0ard”) on Wednesday, June 13, 2012 which denied him standing to

pursue an appeal of the grant of a permit application to Diamond State Generation Partners, LLC

by the Delaware Department of Natural Resources And Environmental Control on the grounds

that the evidence in the record established Nichols possessed standing under the broad “any

aggrieved person” statutory scope of 7 Def. C. § 7007(b).


Attorneys for Appellant John A. Nichols
Dated: July 2, 2012

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DOVER, DE – Cause of Action, a Washington D.C.-based legal advocacy group, has filed suit today in US Federal Court, District of Delaware, against Governor Jack Markell and five members of the Delaware Public Service Commission.

The Caesar Rodney Institute (CRI), a Delaware-based non-partisan think tank, has challenged the merits of utilizing high-cost Solid Oxide Fuel Cells to produce electrical power for sale to ratepayers of Delmarva Power, Delaware’s largest energy utility provider.  CRI was the sole entity opposing the contract between Delmarva Power and Bloom Energy at the Delaware Public Service rate hearings in October of 2011, on the basis the economic impact on Delaware’s economy would be negative because of the contract.  CRI has been concerned about the constitutionality of the contract from the very beginning.

Since CRI and John Nichols, a citizen activist, were not able to convince the Public Service Commission to change its views on either the economic or environmental impact of the permit application, Mr. Nichols decided to take his case to the Coastal Zone Industrial Control Board.  He challenged the permit application on whether Bloom Energy had the right to build its Solid Oxide Fuel Cell technology in lands that were considered protected for wildlife. CRI funded expert testimony as part of Mr. Nichols’ motion to appear the permit decision.

The Board voted to deny Mr. Nichols standing at the hearing, which allowed Bloom Energy to proceed with installation of its Solid Oxide Fuel Cell units in the Coastal Zone.  Mr. Nichols opted to file a lawsuit against Governor Markell and five members of the Public Service Commission, using information CRI provided during testimony.  He was joined by Fuel Cell Energy, Inc., a company which makes fuel cells, and which feels it was denied the opportunity to do business in Delaware because of the government’s decision to not open the bidding process to outside companies.

Caesar Rodney Institute 

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Please read the following from David Stevenson, CRI’s Director for Energy Competitiveness:

In August 2011 the Public Service commission approved PSC Docket No. 11-362 providing for Delmarva Power to purchase electrical power to be supplied by the Bloom Project Company, a privately held company headquartered in Sunnyvale, California, from their proprietary solid state fuel cells. Bloom’s fuel cell units are to be assembled on the site of the former Chrysler automobile assembly plant, located in Newark and owned by the University of Delaware. The power supply commitment spans 21 years with projected revenue from electric ratepayers of approximately $1.1Billion.

Caesar Rodney Institute was the only intervener at the public service commission hearing requesting denial of the new rate tariff, arguing that it would increase the cost of power to Delmarva’s customers by up to $35 Million a year over the life of the contract versus power from conventional sources.  Delmarva’s customers will be billed a $2 Million premium in the second half of this year for fuel cell power from just 10% of the proposed project.  Ratepayers will also pay $17.5 Million for infrastructure upgrades needed to support the entire fuel cell project. In addition, Delmarva ratepayers will pay a $19 Million premium this year for other “green” programs such as wind and solar energy credits, regional cap and trade permits, and Green Energy Fund grants.  These expenses are not shown separately on Delmarva Power electric bills.

Under the terms of the above Docket approval, Diamond State Generation Partners, LLC, a Bloom Energy affiliate, plans to install 235 Bloom Energy solid oxide fuel cells requiring 9 – 12 acres of land at Delmarva’s Red Lion Energy Center, 1592 River Road in New Castle and located within the protected Coastal Zone area. While the sub-station land use by Delmarva would be prohibited today, it was built before the restrictive zoning law was passed and enjoys “grandfather” status.

On April 30, 2012 Diamond State Generation was granted a permit by the Delaware Department of Natural Resources to locate its fuel cells on the Delmarva site. On May 15, 2012 John Nichols, a citizen activist and Delmarva customer filed an appeal to the issuance of the permit with the Coastal Zone Industrial Control Board (CZICB) on the grounds that it was a prohibited use under the CZ statute. Diamond State Generation then filed a Motion to Dismiss Mr. Nichols appeal claiming Mr. Nichols did not have standing (the right) to file an appeal. The motion to dismiss will be decided at the public hearing at 9:30 AM, June 13, 2012 at Del Tech’s Dover campus before the members of the CZICB. (http://egov.delaware.gov/pmc/Event/Details/18175). All members of the CZICB are appointed by the Governor, confirmed by the State Senate and is currently chaired by Richard Legatski.

Caesar Rodney Institute will provide two expert witnesses supporting Mr. Nichols’ appeal.  In addition, Lindsay Leveen, an expert in thermodynamics will provide an analysis of Bloom’s fuel cell operating characteristics.  His study of the Coastal Zone application submitted by Diamond State Generation Partners, LLC (Bloom Energy) was   funded by CRI.

CRI has consistently maintained that electrical power supplied from high cost “renewable” sources such as these ‘Bloom Boxes’ is a “job killer” for the state.To this end CRI continues its efforts to inform the public of the facts and explore other options to prevent the Bloom Energy project from proceeding.

This is a very important meeting. All of Delmarva’s customers have a vital stake in the outcome as does every Delaware citizen concerned about the environment so it is absolutely important you attend.

David A. Stevenson

Director, Center for Energy Competitiveness

If you plan on being there, please reply to this post and say you’ll come!

Also, please consider helping CRI out with a tax-deductable contribution to helping us keep up the fight against those that abuse power. We know the economy is rough, and you have other places you are trying to help out, but we are facing a multi-billion dollar entity with the best corporate lawyers money can buy. You can send a check to:

Caesar Rodney Institute

PO Box 795

Dover, DE 19903

or log onto the website http://www.caesarrodney.org and make a secure donation online.

or call us at (302) 734-2700 and let us know you are available to help us sound the alarm to victory!

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