BPA Names Utilities To Receive First Fuel Cells

September 08, 1999 by Jeff Shepard

The Bonneville Power Administration (BPA, Portland, OR) recently announced its initial research partners in a fuel cell demonstration project. These BPA public utility customers and utility organizations will be the first to test proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells as part of BPA's fuel cell program. This brings BPA and the utilities in the Northwest one step closer to making clean, efficient fuel cell generators available for residential and commercial use.In June, BPA announced its desire to field test the first 10 fuel cells with its public customers. More than 20 utilities attended the initial scoping meeting for the test. The utilities and utility organizations selected to participate in the initial test are the following: Central Electric Cooperative, Redmond, OR; City of Idaho Falls, ID; Emerald PUD, Eugene, OR; Energy Northwest, Richland, WA; Eugene Water and Electric Board, Eugene, OR; Fergus Electric, Lewistown, MT; Grant County PUD No.2, Ephrata, WA; Lincoln Electric Cooperative, Eureka, MT; Mason Co. PUD No. 3 & Lewis Co. PUD No. 1 (in partnership), WA; and Pacific Northwest Generating Cooperative (Portland, OR); Northwest Power Systems (Bend, OR) is manufacturing the fuel cells. They expect to have the first unit ready this fall. BPA and Northwest Power Systems will unveil the first unit in a special display at the Northcon/99 Conference in Portland, Oregon on October 7, 1999. Northcon/99, sponsored by IEEE, is a technical applications conference that will explore embedded systems technology.Participating utilities and organizations will operate the first ten fuel cell systems at their own facilities. Their performance data and feedback will help define the next generation fuel cell systems. One hundred second-generation units will be produced to further test and refine the technology. Pend Orielle PUD, WA and Seattle City Light, WA have expressed interest in being part of the follow-on test phase. "BPA is extremely pleased to have so much interest and support for this project," stated Mark Jackson, BPA's fuel cell development manager. "I think our customers and the region as a whole are beginning to see the potential benefits fuel cells offer as clean, quiet, efficient power systems."