Schumer stumps for fuel cell funding at Rochester Delphi plant

Mar 26, 2012

The Obama administration wants to cut a $50 million program at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) does not.

"It would mean that all the research and development that the federal government helped fund would go down the drain," Schumer said Monday. "How dumb!"

Speaking in front of a massive semitruck at the Delphi plant in Henrietta, N.Y., Schumer announced efforts to fight a proposed cut in the 2013 budget.

Schumer says the move would hinder efforts by Delphi to produce its solid oxide fuel cell. The device is designed to power the electrical systems in today's big rigs.

"The kind of funding that Delphi depends on could run dry," Schumer said, "leaving Delphi and its fuel cell technology a yard short of the goal line."

For over a decade Delphi has received millions in federal funding for its solid oxide fuel cell program. Over the last four years alone, Delphi has netted $22.6 million in DOE funding.

Delphi's fuel cell is not yet on the market - but they say they're close. It could be ready by late 2014 at the earliest, according to company officials.

Delphi says a funding cut would delay that timetable - and put a few of the 65 jobs associated with the program at risk.

Truckers currently have to idle their rigs to power electronic gadgets during downtime. Delphi says their built-in fuel cell generators would significantly cut the amount of diesel fuel required to do so.