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Ramar Foods International vice president of marketing PJ Quesada stands next to a 200 kW solid oxide fuel cell outside their 30,000 sq. ft. plant in Pittsburg, Calif., on Monday, Nov. 18, 2013. The newly installed fuel cells help reduce the companies dependency of fuel based electricity and reduce the companies carbon footprint. Ramar foods manufactures 10 brands of specialty foods and tropical ice cream. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)

PITTSBURG -- It's one thing for a new business to have a ribbon-cutting ceremony. It's quite another for an established business to have a wire-cutting ceremony.

Ramar Foods held a wire-cutting ceremony on Tuesday to celebrate the installation of a clean-energy fuel cell that will make it possible for the company to lower is electricity bills while using less power provided by Pacific Gas and Electric Co.

"We're going to be replacing a large amount of grid energy we purchase with energy we purchase on site. We're cutting the wire," said PJ Quesada, vice president of marketing for Ramar Foods.

In addition, the fuel cell will reduce Ramar Foods' carbon footprint by more than 400,000 pounds a year. "It's good for the environment, and it happens to be good for business as well," he said.

In late September, the company installed a fuel cell made by Sunnyvale-based Bloom Energy. It's about the size of two parking spaces and is installed in front of Ramar Foods' manufacturing facility that produces a wide range of Filipino and Asian frozen foods. Bloom Energy's solid-oxide fuel cell technology uses an electro-chemical reaction to convert fuel and air into electricity without combustion.

Having the fuel cell in place will provide 65 percent of electricity needs of the food-manufacturing plant. That translates into a net savings of at least $15,000 a month off the cost of electricity provided by PG&E to power that building.

"And that's a conservative estimate," Quesada said.

The company received a state rebate that helped to offset the cost of buying the fuel cell. The liquid natural gas that powers the fuel cell is purchased from a third-party but delivered by PG&E, Quesada said.

Ramar Foods considered a solar energy system, but went with the fuel cell system instead.

"As part of our greater sustainability efforts, we've had our eye on a number of alternative energy solutions, and fuel cells make the most sense for our operations, which run 24/7, unlike the sun," Quesada said.

Founded in 2001, Bloom Energy provides fuel cells for several Fortune 500 companies, including Google, Walmart, AT&T, eBay, Staples and Coca-Cola, as well as nonprofits such as Kaiser Permanente. It has more than 100 fuel cell installations in California with more than 50 companies, according to Matt Ross, chief marketing officer for Bloom Energy.

Contact Eve Mitchell at 925-779-7189. Follow her on Twitter.com/EastCounty_Girl.

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