About two weeks ago, the News Journal reported that DNREC had scheduled a public hearing on Bloom Energy’s request for a construction permit to “swap out” old fuel cells at the fuel cell power facilities (FCF) that it operates for Delmarva Power (all of the electric power produced is sold to the grid). The old fuel cells will be replaced with more advanced fuel cells at a cost reported to be in the $100-150 million range. Bloom Energy had reportedly requested that the hearing be held before yearend, but DNREC said it would be conducted on or after January 10. A January 10 date was posted on the DNREC website. Public hearing about Bloom Energy possible, Karl Baker, 11/23/18.
The hearing date posted on the DNREC website was subsequently changed to December 27 without any public explanation (or coverage by the News Journal). Some Bloom critics perceived this date to be inconvenient due to the holidays. After their complaint was supported by Rep. John Kowalko (D-Newark), the date was changed back to January 10.
In the current story, the change from December 27 to January 10 is attributed in a DNREC statement to “consideration of the public with regard to the holiday season.” When contacted for this story, Bloom spokesman David McCullough initially said he was not aware that the meeting had been postponed. He subsequently advised in an e-mail that he had learned that Bloom officials requested the change. “We are eager to explain the air quality benefits of the proposed project and the reasons we believe the permits should be granted.”
If DNREC and Bloom Energy can’t get their story straight on a relatively minor detail like scheduling of the hearing date, what hope is there that a credible account of what’s going on will be presented at the public hearing?