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AT&T to Buy 9.6 Megawatts of Bloom Energy’s Fuel Cells

AT&T Inc., the largest U.S. phone company, will buy 9.6 megawatts of fuel cells from Bloom Energy Corp. to make its power costs more predictable.

AT&T is now Bloom’s largest non-utility customer, according to a statement today. Dallas-based AT&T bought 7.5 megawatts of the so-called Bloom Boxes in July 2011.

Bloom’s systems use a chemical reaction to generate electricity from air and natural gas at a constant rate. That helps users manage their power expenses, according to AT&T’s Senior Energy Director John Schinter.

“They provide steady, recurring electricity production at a relatively predictable cost, replacing the traditional electricity bill, which can be volatile,” he said in the statement. AT&T didn’t give a price for the purchase.

Power from Bloom’s systems costs “a good bit more” than electricity purchased from utilities, Ted Hesser, an analyst for Bloomberg New Energy Finance in New York, said today in an interview. “Presumably, they’re getting a more reliable source of energy so they’re willing to pay a premium.”

Executives from Bloom, a closely held company based in Sunnyvale, California, weren’t immediately available for comment.

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