Bloom Energy sues City of Santa Clara for the second time

San Jose-based Bloom Energy has sued Santa Clara for the second time over the city’s reluctance to issue permits for its fuel cell boxes.

Bloom Energy manufactures and markets solid oxide fuel cells that produce electricity on site, which the company says could provide Silicon Valley companies an alternative power source to city-owned utilities.

In 2019, Bloom Energy sued the city for passing a resolution requiring self-generating power sources to use renewable fuels. Bloom Energy’s fuel cells run on natural gas. The resolution prevented the company from connecting to the electrical grids through Silicon Valley Power, the city’s own electrical utility.  After a judge ruled the city violated state law when it passed the resolution, the city responded by re-classifying Bloom Energy’s fuel cell boxes as power plants, which gave the city power to issue permits at its own discretion.

On June 29 this year, Bloom Energy filed a second lawsuit in Santa Clara County Superior Court.

“The city has refused to process the pending applications by deeming them incomplete and demanding that Bloom instead pursue discretionary use permits as required for ‘power plants,’ ” the company said in the lawsuit.

Santa Clara Councilmember Suds Jain told the San Jose Spotlight, “My main opposition to Bloom Energy is that their carbon footprint is much higher than Silicon Valley Power’s carbon footprint.”

Bloom Energy’s fuel cell boxes cannot be used in Santa Clara, Jain said, because their reliance on natural gas or methane is incompatible with climate goals in Santa Clara and California. The state requires municipal grids to move to 100 percent renewable energy by 2045.

“If somebody were to install a Bloom box, it would continue to run on methane forever… it would continue to keep us addicted to fossil fuels,” Jain said.

Continue to follow Cupertino Today for the latest developments in this legal battle.