Bloom Energy is returning more than 1.5 million dollars in incentives it received for a promise to create hundreds of jobs.
But the fuel cell manufacturer’s sweet deal came at the expense of Delaware utility customers.
Bloom Energy promised in 2011 it would hire 900 workers earning a combined $108 million a year at its Newark location. In return, lawmakers approved a package of subsidies that included a $12 million grant. And they added an electricity surcharge for the state’s ratepayers through 2033.
But since then, Bloom Energy has hired just 302 workers with a payroll of more than $64 million. Meanwhile, Delawareans have paid Bloom Energy millions of dollars each year for the past five years.
State Rep. John Kowalko, D-Newark South, said there’s no vote he regrets more than that one. He represents the district where Bloom Energy built its fuel cell manufacturing facility.
“I am partially responsible for putting us there," he said. "And I don’t feel very comfortable acknowledging that, but I have to, it’s my responsibility. I’m the lawmaker and I did vote to pass it.”
Kowalko said he also questioned at the time why the legislation allowed Bloom Energy’s fuel cells to be labeled renewable energy when they weren’t.
In a statement, Secretary of State Jeff Bullock said everyone should want Bloom and their employees in Delaware to succeed. He said Delawareans have and will continue to make a big investment in the company and will expect it to create hundreds more high paying jobs.