The lights are on at the Bloom Energy plant in Newark.  And what Delaware officials hope is the start of something big is underway.

Bloom Energy officials and state representatives celebrated the grand opening of the facility located on the University of Delaware STAR campus this afternoon.

The partnership began more than two years ago when the California-base company was looking for a place to manufacturer its “Bloom Boxes” which convert natural gas to electricity, providing cleaner energy to companies and businesses across the globe.

KR Sridhar, principal co-founder & CEO of Bloom Energy recalled the initial meetings with Gov. Jack Markell and state officials.

“If there’s one thing you can say about him, he’s extremely persistent and will not take no for an answer and he’s a visionary,” said Sridhar. “He told us in more ways than one why this was the perfect location for that factory to be built.”

Sridhar added that one of the things that really sold the First State was the skilled and passionate manufacturing workforce in Delaware.

Gov. Markell said after learning about the company, he knew it was a perfect fit for Delaware.

“These are the kind of people you want to build a company around and these are the kind of people that we want to build a partnership with,” he said. “And then you want to build a company who has world-class customers.”

Bloom Energy already has partnerships with companies including Walmart, FedEx, Apple, Adobe, Google, Ebay and Delmarva Power.

“When we have an opportunity to build the new face of manufacturing right here in Delaware, working with a first class partner who has first class people and first class customers, that’s where we want to be,” said Markell.

J.P. Morgan Chase, a major employer in Delaware also announced during the grand opening that it was entering into a partnership with Bloom Energy to provide cleaner energy at its Delaware-based data centers.

University of Delaware President Patrick Harker said Bloom’s presence on the STAR campus is exactly the type of innovation the university is trying to attract.  The STAR campus is the expansion of the University of Delaware located on the site of the Chrysler automotive company, which ceased its operations nearly 5 years ago.  The University saw the site as an opportunity to nearly double the size of the University and focus on research and development at that location.

“What was impressive to us is that Bloom saw the vision that we had for the campus early on. They understood the advantages of the proximity to UD,” said Harker. “The creative energy of a lot of great minds working together, the efficiency that speeds the time to market for important discovery and the synergy that centralizing high quality R&D education, training, technology development and manufacturing, putting that all together so each one can inform and improve each other.”

The company hired an initial 80 employees and plans to expand to several hundred over the next few years.