December 30, 2014

FuelCell director blasts company in resignation letter

HBJ Photo / Brad Kane
HBJ Photo / Brad Kane
Chip Bottone, CEO of FuelCell Energy Inc. in Danbury, has focused his priorities on the company turning a quarterly profit for the first time ever.

One member of the board of directors for Danbury clean energy manufacturer FuelCell Energy expressed his frustration with the company's lack of addressing its basic problems in the market in an abrupt resignation letter that came the week before Christmas, according to filings with the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission.

James Gerson ended his 22-year relationship with FuelCell in a letter dated Dec. 18 by saying the company leadership repeatedly ignored his concerns about the firm's lack of fuel cell sales in America. Because these issues have never been addressed, he resigned from the FuelCell board immediately. The resignation letter was filed to the SEC on Christmas Eve.

Although headquartered in Danbury with production facilities in Torrington, the bulk of FuelCell's sales are made in South Korea, where it has a partnership with a major energy company, POSCO Energy. FuelCell does have some significant domestic sales, notably a 14.9 megawatt fuel cell installation in Bridgeport, which is the largest fuel cell installation in the world outside of South Korea.

Despite Gerson's strong words, the board reaffirmed its support for FuelCell's business strategy and management in its filing with the SEC. The company has never turned a profit on its sales and still is trying to reach high enough sales and production value to consistently land in the black.

Gerson started serving on the FuelCell board in 1992 and at the time of his resignation, he was chairman of the audit and finance committee, a member of the executive committee, and a member of the nominating and corporate governance committee. Gerson, 70, works as a portfolio manager and has been on the board of directors of several companies, including chairman of New York printing manufacturer Evercel and a director of Boston car rental firm Zipcar.

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