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Intuit gearing up for Bloom Energy fuel-cell installation

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Software developer selected its installation site, scheduled to go live in October 2012, because of the high cost of electricity in the area.

Financial software developer Intuit has published what is billed as its first corporate sustainability report, a missive that shows the company has a way to go in just collecting the data it needs to reduce its electricity consumption, water usage and overall impact on the planet.

But one plan for later on this year will see Intuit become one of the latest corporate proponents of fuel cell technology from Bloom Energy.

In its 2011 Sustainability Report, Intuit said it picked the site for its Bloom Energy installation in Woodland Hills, Calif., because the office is located in an area where energy is still regulated and therefore more expensive. The technology, which is supposed to be operational in October 2012, will supply about 67 percent of the electricity needed to power the building. There are several hundred employees in this building who are part of the company's Payment Service unit, so this isn't some teeny little adjunct office.

In its report, Intuit says that approximately 75 percent of the fuel used to run the Bloom Box technology over the first five years of the installation will be biogas.

The technology will save the company about 4 cents per kilowatt-hour, according to the report. Intuit also is installing solar panels on buildings in its Mountain View, Calif., headquarters complex in a bid to earn LEED Silver Certification for the site.

"This project, along with the Bloom Boxes, sends a powerful message to our employees, customers, and shareholders that we are committed to becoming a more sustainable company," the company notes in its report.

The process that inspired Intuit to select an alternative energy source for Woodland Hills, though, is just as much about saving money as it is about reducing greenhouse gas emissions -- which makes it a great test case as Intuit begins the tough process of figuring out how to deliver on corporate social responsibility expectations.

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Heather Clancy

Section Editor

Heather Clancy has written for United Press International, ZDNet, Entrepreneur, Fortune Small Business, the International Herald Tribune and the New York Times. She holds a degree from McGill University. She is based in New Jersey. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure