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A Clean Energy Producer Complains About Climate Change Laws

David R. Baker

(Bloomberg) -- It’s not every day that a clean energy company complains about climate change laws. And yet, that’s exactly what fuel cell maker Bloom Energy Corp. is doing as its shares plummet to all-time lows.

Bloom executives, during a second-quarter earnings call late Monday, forecast flat revenue in 2020 and cast at least part of the blame on clean energy laws in California and New York, two of the company’s stronger markets. The laws -- committing the states to 100% carbon-free electricity by 2045 and 2040, respectively -- have confused Bloom customers and caused them to delay orders, said Chief Executive Officer K.R. Sridhar.

“Such objectives are well-intentioned but ill-informed,” he told analysts on the call. “There is no credible way to achieve a 100% renewables goal without compromising public safety, reliability, resiliency and affordability of power.”

The laws can be a problem for Bloom because its cells typically run on natural gas, although they can be configured to run on hydrogen or bio gas. When using natural gas, Bloom’s fuel cells do produce global warming emissions, but the emissions are lower than those from gas-burning turbines in standard power plants, according to the company.

Sridhar also took a shot at budding interest among cities -- such as Berkeley, California -- in banning natural gas from new buildings.

“It is wishful thinking,” he said.

Still, the confusion over the laws and the impact on Bloom should be temporary, Sridhar said.

The disappointing 2020 guidance prompted a half dozen analysts to slash their price targets. The stock plunged as much as 41% Tuesday, the most since the company’s 2018 initial public offering.

(Adds details on Bloom fuel cells’ greenhouse gas emissions in 4th paragraph.)

To contact the reporter on this story: David R. Baker in San Francisco at dbaker116@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Lynn Doan at ldoan6@bloomberg.net, Millie Munshi, Steven Frank

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