Wall Street Journal exposé challenges Bloom Energy,
stock fall 11%
By David T. Stevenson
Center for Energy & Environmental Policy
December 9, 2020
Yesterday, The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) released an exposé on Bloom Energy, Inc. (Bloom). The critical report discusses how Bloom has lost its green energy edge. More people discover its actual carbon dioxide emissions roughly match the "regional grid."
For example, Delmarva Power's Red Lion location has "Bloom" servers that are roughly one-year-old. These servers emit 805 pounds per megawatt-hour of electric generation (which increases monthly). On the other hand, the "regional grid" has emitted 792 pounds in the last 12 months compared to 861 pounds in the previous twelve months.
Bloom has counted on its green energy reputation and a 30% federal tax credit to overcome its high selling price disadvantage. The federal tax credit runs out in 2021. The WSJ article claims Bloom has also been challenged on its use of "iffy" accounting practices. Bloom had to discount 2019 sales revenue by 15% after miscounting future revenues as current revenues.
It is questionable whether the $224 million in server replacement costs at the Delmarva Power plant should be counted as revenue or should have been an expense. Bloom also sold its Diamond State Generation Partners subsidiary that operated the Delmarva Power facility to Southern Company for $166 million and counted that as operating revenue.
The WSJ article also discusses possible future Bloom liability to protect Southern Company from losses that may not have been claimed as current expenses. All in, Bloom may have overstated revenue by over two times, but accountants can disagree. MarketWatch reported Bloom Energy stock fell about 11%.