Southern's Powersecure contracts with Bloom for fuel cell + storage solution
- Southern Co. subsidiary Powersecure announced a partnership with Bloom Energy to secure 50 MW of distributed fuel cells under long-term power purchase agreements.
- Powersecure will combine the fuel cells with battery storage to create a new DER offering for customers, further bolstering Southern Co.'s behind-the-meter offerings after its acquisition of the distributed energy company earlier this year.
- The Home Depot has already signed on for the fuel cell + storage solution, and another customer is slated for to buy 30 MW to provide backup power and services for hospitals, clinics and administrative centers, according to the release.
"If somebody wants to buy distributed generation, I want to sell it to 'em," Southern CEO Tom Fanning said last year after his company rolled out rooftop solar installations through an unregulated subsidiary in Georgia.
Southern's acquisition of PowerSecure in February underscored this statement as the company continues to expand in new markets outside of the traditional business model. Other notable deals include the company's merger with natural gas provider AGL Resources, to secure a stake in the growing gas market.
Though demand for distributed energy resources remains low in the U.S. South, Fanning acknowledges the advancement in technology will "allow us to play offense in the rapidly changing energy landscape by expanding our distributed infrastructure business."
As for Bloom Energy, the deal is a much needed boost after the company quietly filed an initial public offering earlier this month. Greentech Media noted that the structure of some of Bloom's notes has hinted that the timing of the IPO filing coincided with upcoming debt obligations.
Though the company has dominated the fuel cell sector, competition with battery storage and solar panels has cost the company some ground in some applications like microgrids. In California's Self Generation Incentive Program, fuel cells made some early inroads thanks to Bloom's aggressive bidding, but lost traction after the program was revised.
With Powersecure, Bloom's fuel cells will be used to provide backup power services at commercial and industrial customers. The companies said The Home Depot is expected to deploy the fuel cell + storage solution at 60 stores, in addition to 140 already operating Bloom Energy Servers. Another unnamed customer will reportedly buy 30 MW of the systems.
Follow Krysti Shallenberger on Twitter