Chugach Electric Association Establishes Fuel Cell System in Alaska

August 20, 2000 by Jeff Shepard

The US Postal Service and the Chugach Electric Association Inc. (Anchorage, AK), have established a fuel cell system that they claim is the largest commercial fuel cell system in the nation and is part of an electric utility's grid. In a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Anchorage Mail Processing Center, the 1MW fuel cell system was inaugurated. Five fuel cells, connected in parallel to produce 1MW of electricity, are now the primary source of power for the Anchorage facility. The fuel cells are part of the local electric utility's grid, operating in parallel with the grid, dispatched from the utility's central system dispatch center. Excess power from the fuel cells is fed into the Chugach electric grid. The fuel cells that make up the system were developed and manufactured by International Fuel Cells (South Windsor, CT), a subsidiary of United Technologies Corp. (Hartford, CT).

Research, development, manufacture and installation of the approximately $5.5 million fuel cell system was funded, in part, by Chugach, the US Postal Service, the US Department of Defense, the Cooperative Research Network of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, and the Electric Power Research Institute.