Hearing date changed on permit to replace Bloom fuel cells at Red Lion, Brookside

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DNREC’s Division of Air Quality has changed a controversial Dec. 27 date for a public hearing on a construction permit that would replace more three dozen Bloom Energy fuel cells in northern Delaware.

The hearing is now slated for Jan.10.

“We felt the date was becoming a hindrance to our ability to explain the air quality benefits of the proposed project and the reasons we believe the permits should be granted,” Bloom Energy spokesman David McCulloch stated.

The permit applications were submitted by Bloom Energy’s Diamond State Generating Partners to replace all fuel cells at their Red Lion site at 1593 River Road, New Castle and the Brookside site located at 512 E. Chestnut Hill Road, Newark.

The Brookside site includes 13 Bloom Energy servers and the River Road site has 134 fuel cells. (See earlier story).

Bloom Energy replacing fuel cells at site south of Newark in $100 M to $150M project

The public hearing will be held at 6 p.m. at the DNREC- Division of Waste and Hazardous Substances Office, 391 Lukens Drive, New Castle.

The hearing date drew fire from Bloom Energy opponents, who claim the timing was aimed at allowing the proposal to gain approval with little notice.

“I agree that scheduling this hearing in the middle of the holiday period is an affront and insult to the public and formally request that the date be changed. I hope my colleagues will join me in rejecting this date as a viable moment to hold such an important meeting,” said State Rep. John Kowalko.

Kowalko has long questioned the energy surcharge for the fuel cell energy, which is paid by Delmarva Power customers.

The permit issue came up when the Axios website questioned whether the upgrade, estimated to cost $100 million to $150 million required disclosure to Bloom shareholders.

A Bloom spokesman said the replacements had been expected. Bloom has indicated that its servers have a lifespan and newer fuel cells are more efficient.

Another issue brought up by Bloom critics has involved waste generated by the fuel cells. Bloom has denied waste is a problem with the fuel cells.

The application, draft permit and technical memorandum may be inspected at the offices of the Division of Air Quality, State Street Commons, 100 W. Water Street, Suite 6A, Dover, DE 19904 and at 715 Grantham Lane, New Castle, DE 19720.

Persons wishing to offer comment on this permit application may do so either orally or in written form at the public hearing on Thursday, December 27, 2018. In lieu of attending the hearing, written comments may be submitted to the Hearing Officer via either email to lisa.vest@state.de.usor via USPS to the following address:

Lisa A. Vest, Hearing Officer,Office of the Secretary,Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control,89 Kings HighwayDover 19901

Division of Air Quality,State Street Commons,100 West Water St., Dover 19904

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