Bloom Energy offers upbeat report on Delaware operations

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A Bloom Energy executive pointed to the growth in Delaware employment and its work in refurbishing medical ventilators.

The update came in a letter addressed to Secretary of State Jeffrey Bullock. Bullock’s office oversees theDelaware Economic Development Authority, which monitors grants from the state.

Bloom has long been the target of criticism after the company fell short of 2012 estimates that it would employ 900 in Delaware.

In 2017, Bloom paid back $1.5 million after not achieving job benchmarks that were part of the agreement with the state.Department of State spokesman David Mangler said the company has been in compliance since that time.

Another source of friction has been the long-term electricity purchase deal approved eight years ago by the Delaware General Assembly. As energy prices have dropped, Delmarva Power ratepayers have been paying $4 or more a month than the going price for electricity purchased on the wholesale market.

Bloom’s Chief Financial Officer Greg Cameron reported that the company added 57 new jobs at its Newark site since last year, bringing total employment to 397.

The total payroll for the Newark site rose nearly 11 percent to nearly $30.7 million.

“These numbers tell a story, but they don’t tell the whole story. From Marchof this year through the height of the pandemic this summer, Bloom Energy refurbished more than 1,300 life-saving ventilators that were ultimately supplied to state emergency management departments and health care facilities in Delaware, Pennsylvania, and California,” Cameron wrote.

The Bloom CFO noted that the company avoided layoffs and used some members of its workforce to aid in the ventilator effort, which came about due to a shortage of the lifesaving machines. Bloom discovered it had the skills needed to repair the equipment.

The machines were in short supply during the height of the Covid-19 crisis last spring.

Cameron said the company remained focused on its “Energy Servers” and pointed to installations in the Northeast that include Gillette Stadium, home of the New England Patriots.

Cameron also mentioned the company’s effort to broaden markets with an agreement with Samsung to develop ships powered by fuel cells, using Bloom servers in electric microgrids that can be deployed within days, and the use of its technology to produce hydrogen.

“Delaware has been a vital stable of manufacturing at Bloom Energy for more than six years, and the Company remains strongly committed to expanding its operations in the state,” Cameron wrote. “This year alone, we have notably invested $6.6 million at our plant in Newark to prepare for future growth. We also built a new state-of-the-art training facility and entered into a partnership with the Delaware Office of Work-Based Learning at Delaware Tech to support workforce development.”

The company has been focused on partnerships with South Korean companies, leading to concerns that the company might move more work offshore.

Cameron said overall growth “will be a net gain for our U.S. manufacturing operations, securing a future for additional job growth and economic development in the U.S.”

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