The investor owned utilities and the State of Delaware are making a mockery out of the huge distributed generation potential of the Bloom Box. In order to entice construction of a Bloom Box manufacturing facility in Delaware, state officials and Pepco Holdings subsidiary Delmarva Power have come up with a ratepayer-funded scheme to centralize clusters of Bloom Boxes and transport the power generated to end users via transmission lines.
According to the article, the Bloom Box isn't intended for this kind of deployment:
"One of the main benefits to customers is that the power is generated by units placed on their property, not delivered to them over power lines winding back to a coal- or gas- or oil-fired power plant. Bloom touts its generators as pioneer technology in the field of "distributed power."
In essence, customers get to go "off the grid," lessening exposure to rising costs for electricity tied to the volatile prices of fossil fuels, and vulnerability to grid outages."
Of course the utility conglomerates don't like that scenario because they lose control over previously captive customers, and that means they lose revenue. One way to prevent that from happening is to pervert the technology into centralized generation:
"The Delaware plan to cluster Bloom Boxes on two sites in New Castle County turns that strategy on its head.
The two Bloom clusters adjacent to Delmarva substations would be centralized, generating 30 megawatts of power for sale onto the grid. That's enough electricity for 20,000 to 30,000 homes. By comparison, Calpine's natural-gas plant at Hay Road generates 1,130 megawatts."
This "strategy" is a really stupid plan that was most likely cooked up by Delaware's economic development and Chamber of Commerce-types, who are always in bed with big business. Under this plan, instead of state or local economic development programs providing business-enticing incentives, a large portion of the cost of providing incentives to Bloom is going to be borne by electric ratepayers, as if electricity isn't already expensive enough.
"The Bloom clusters actually would shut down if the grid fails, according to Delmarva testimony filed with the PSC, which is considering Delmarva's proposed tariff to pass along $4 million to $5 million annually in costs.
Delaware officials tout the Delmarva tariff, saying the incentive the Bloom cluster deal provides was necessary for an incentive package that landed the company here. The state also is providing $16 million in financial incentives from money set aside to promote economic development."
PJM Interconnection says the new generation is not needed.
"PJM Interconnection spokesman Ray Dotter said the two Delmarva substation sites near Red Lion and Brookside are not in congested areas in need of a supplemental power source, nor do they suffer from reliability problems."
Bloom supposedly had no comment, however:
"...any such business would be secondary for Bloom, a California startup that has looked to capitalize on anxiety about the nation's power system of big plants and power lines.
On its website, Bloom prominently defines its product as "a new class of distributed power generator, producing clean, reliable, affordable electricity at the customer site."
"Distributed power" can be anything, said Richard Hirsch, director of Virginia Tech's Consortium on Energy Restructuring. It can be solar panels, a wind turbine, fuel cells or even a dirty gasoline-powered generator. All forms locate a power generator on the site where current is consumed."
Delaware needs to come up with a better plan that doesn't involve Pepco's centralized generation ideology. Their "incentives" only destroy Bloom's business model and foist the costs of economic development onto electric customers. What a joke.