The Silicon Valley Voice

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Bloom Energy Files CEQA Lawsuit Over Santa Clara Fuel Cell Requirements

Bloom Energy has filed a California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) lawsuit against the City of Santa Clara for the City’s refusal to allow fuel cells that do not use renewable energy sources to connect with the City’s electrical grid.

In May, the Santa Clara City Council passed an ordinance requiring that self-generating electrical generating systems connected to Santa Clara’s publicly owned electric utility, Silicon Valley Power (SVP) must use renewable resources. Bloom fuel cells use natural gas.

In its complaint, Bloom alleges that “Substantial evidence in the record demonstrates that the [requirement] may cause significant impacts on the environment.”


Bloom also claims that the City’s contention that Bloom could use renewable biogas sourced in California “is infeasible … because renewable biogas sourced solely from within the State is virtually non-existent as a reliable fuel source or prohibitively expensive for a commercial user.

Bloom continues to contend that its fuel cells would replace electricity generated by gas-fueled power plants.

Bloom also contends that the City’s requirement “likely will increase greenhouse gas emissions and … pollutants, such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and particulate matter.”

As Bloom’s customers only use SVP electricity as backup, it’s not clear how this would affect the City’s generation because power plants can’t be switched on and off when a customer connects or disconnects from the SVP grid.

“In addition,” the complaint continues, “two of the three power plants owned by SVP are located in State-designated ‘disadvantaged’ communities and the third power plant is located near a residential area, increasing the risk of adverse impacts on sensitive receptors.”

Bloom’s analysis is that the Don Von Raesfeld gas-fired plant is in a “disadvantaged neighborhood.” The plant is located in an industrial area in the 101 corridor that includes the Corning fiberglass plant.

Bloom is asking the Superior Court to force the City to rescind its ordinance, complete a full Environmental Impact Report (EIR), and pay Bloom’s legal bills.



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