Electricity company Bloom energy has applied for permits to replace all the fuel cells at its two generating plants in Delaware.
The company uses natural gas to make electricity, which it sells to Delmarva Power under a long-term contract. Delmarva rate payers see a roughly $5 surcharge to Bloom on their monthly energy bills.
Bloom spokesperson David McCulloch says the scheduled maintenance would replace aging fuel cells with newer models.
“The systems are performing exactly as they planned to do, we’ve been meeting all the targets that were set for their performance. What happens with our technology is the fuel cells just degrade in performance over time,” said McCulloch.
“It’s an upgrade that will generate the same amount of electricity only more efficiently, using less fuel,” he added.
McCulloch says the work would not involve any digging at the two sites— one of which is in the Coastal Zone.
“The way our systems work you just kind of slide the power module out through an open door, and you slide in the new ones … so there’s no construction as such.”
McCulloch says the cost of the upgrade has been built into Bloom’s business plans, and the work would take place over a year and a half or more. He says there will be no cost increase to ratepayers.
A public hearing about the permits is scheduled for January 10 in New Castle.