Santa Barbara hosts dedication on fuel cell project at its El Estero wastewater plant

FuelCell Energy Inc., Alliance Power and the city of Santa Barbara announced the dedication of two Direct FuelCell power plants at the El Estero Wastewater Treatment Facility. The DFC power plants that generate 500 kilowatts of renewable power are now providing electricity and heat for the facility's wastewater treatment system and are reducing harmful emissions by operating on the methane gas generated from the anaerobic gas digestion process...

DANBURY, CT, Feb. 23, 2005 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- FuelCell Energy Inc., Alliance Power and the city of Santa Barbara announced the dedication of two Direct FuelCell® (DFC) power plants at the El Estero Wastewater Treatment Facility. The DFC power plants that generate 500 kilowatts of renewable power are now providing electricity and heat for the facility's wastewater treatment system and are reducing harmful emissions by operating on the methane gas generated from the anaerobic gas digestion process.

The city of Santa Barbara is located on the Pacific Coast 95 miles northwest of Los Angeles, with a population of 89,600.

"This fuel cell project at the El Estero Wastewater Treatment Facility has a two-fold positive impact for us - it reduces our energy costs while continuing our commitment to environmental leadership," said Santa Barbara Mayor Marty Blum. "We are pleased that the measurable benefits are now being realized by the ratepayers and residents of Santa Barbara."

The mayor received a certificate of recognition for the city's environmental stewardship from California Assemblyman Pedro Nava of the state's 35th District. Caroline Vance, Santa Barbara Field Representative, made the presentation.

"Fuel cell technology is environmentally sound, a reliable energy source, and holds the potential to stimulate our economy," said Congresswoman Lois Capps, U.S. representative for California's 23rd District. "I am pleased that the Central Coast of California is at the forefront of this important innovation that will significantly improve our immediate energy needs."

"We are very supportive and excited about this project as it demonstrates that stationary fuel cells can effectively convert renewable fuels such as wastewater treatment gas from this facility into clean, efficient energy," said Ron Friesen, executive director of the California Fuel Cell Collaborative. "The innovative leadership of the city, Alliance Power and FuelCell Energy, as well as support from the state of California, is enabling the commercialization of fuel cells for practical customer applications."

"The rising cost of electricity prompted us to explore more cost effective alternatives for energy at the El Estero plant," said Santa Barbara public works director Tony Nisich. "This project provides exceptional overall value for the city of Santa Barbara. In addition to saving money, we will substantially reduce air pollution emissions by using the methane gas as the hydrogen source for the fuel cells."

The reduction of harmful emissions is projected to be significant. Each year, Nisich estimated nitrogen oxides and carbon dioxide would be reduced by 35,000 pounds and 500 tons, respectively, by using fuel cells instead of flaring the methane gas.

"This project, our eighth digester gas application, is evidence that wastewater treatment facilities are a repeatable business for our 'ultra-clean' DFC power plants," said Stephen R. Torres, western region vice president of marketing and sales of FuelCell Energy. "This also demonstrates the role that strong government incentive programs such as the Self Generation Incentive Program in California can play in bringing renewable energy sources to the commercial marketplace with tangible ratepayer and environmental benefits."

"The California market is proving to be ideal for onsite fuel cell power generation for customers who demand clean, efficient and reliable energy at competitive prices," said Alliance Power president James Michael. "Our partnership with FuelCell Energy has produced three projects during the past year, and we are establishing reference units for prospective customers that we believe will stimulate additional fuel cell business opportunities."

Wastewater Treatment Facilities - A Unique Opportunity
Industrial and municipal wastewater treatment facilities with anaerobic gas digesters present an important opportunity for FuelCell Energy. The methane generated from the anaerobic gas digestion process is used as fuel for the company's DFC power plants, which in turn generates the electricity to operate wastewater treatment equipment at the facility. Moreover, wastewater treatment gas is a renewable fuel eligible for government incentive funding for project installations throughout the world. The company has announced seven other global wastewater treatment customers for its DFC power plants, including its first one-megawatt DFC1500 power plant in Washington state at King County and three other California sitings (Terminal Island for Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, the Palmdale Water Reclamation Plant for the Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County, and the Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.). In a January 2000 study by the prepared by Onsite Sycom Energy Corp. for the U.S. Department of Energy, there is over 100 MW of combined heat and power application potential in California.

About the CPUC Self-Generation Incentive Program
The CPUC Self-Generation Incentive Program was created to encourage customers of electrical corporations to install distributed generation that operates on renewable fuel and/or contributes to system reliability. Existing law defines 'ultra-clean and low-emission distributed generation' as an electric generation technology that produces zero emissions during operation or that produces emissions that are equal to or less than limits established by the California Air Resources Board (CARB). The program currently runs through 2007 and provides up to $67 million per year in incentive funding for ultra-clean and renewable generators, including fuel cells.

Fuel Cell Power Plants Designated as 'Ultra-Clean' Technology in California
FuelCell Energy's DFC300A and DFC1500 power plants were state certified to meet CARB's stringent new distributed generation emissions standards for 2007. By meeting this standard, the company's DFC power plants are categorized as an "ultra-clean" technology, exempting them from air pollution control or air quality district permitting requirements by CARB. In addition, this certification qualifies the Company's products for preferential rate treatment by the CPUC, such as the elimination of 'exit fees' and 'standby charges' for customer electric generation utilizing 'ultra-clean' technologies.

FuelCell Energy's Direct FuelCells efficiently generate clean electricity at distributed customer locations, including municipal/industrial wastewater treatment facilities, telecommunications/data centers, hotels, universities, manufacturing, hospitals, prisons, federal and grid support. Direct FuelCells convert readily available fuels, such as natural gas or waste gas, to electrical power with greater efficiency than any competing technology of comparable size, including other fuel cells. This high-efficiency technology generates more electric power from less fuel and has the lowest emissions of any fossil based electric generating technology because the fuel is not burned. DFC power plants can be sited at or near users, and the heat byproduct can be used for cogeneration applications such as district heating, hot water or absorption chilling for air conditioning. Depending on location, application and load size, the company's DFC power plants in a cogeneration configuration can achieve an overall energy efficiency of between 70 and 80 percent. The sub-megawatt fuel cell power plant is a collaborative effort using Direct FuelCell technology of FuelCell Energy and the Hot Module balance of plant design of MTU CFC Solutions GmbH, a subsidiary of DaimlerChrysler.

FuelCell Energy Inc. (www.fuelcellenergy.com), based in Danbury, Conn., is a world leader in the development and manufacture of high temperature fuel cells for clean electric power generation. The Company has developed commercial distribution alliances for its carbonate Direct FuelCell products with world class companies such as Alliance Power, Caterpillar, PPL Energy Plus, Chevron Energy Solutions and LOGANEnergy in the U.S.; Marubeni Corporation in Asia; MTU CFC Solutions in Europe; and Enbridge Inc. in Canada. FuelCell Energy developed its patented Direct FuelCell technology for stationary power plants with the U.S. Department of Energy through its Office of Fossil Energy's National Energy Technology Laboratory. FuelCell Energy is also developing next generation high temperature fuel cell products, such as a diesel fueled marine Ship Service Fuel Cell, a combined-cycle DFC/Turbine(R) power plant and solid oxide fuel cells through its partnership with Versa Power Systems for applications up to 100 kilowatts.

Alliance Power Inc. (www.alliancepower.com) has developed economical and environmentally acceptable distributed generation (DG) facilities ranging in size from 1 MW to 49 MW. The company's unique approach to DG projects maximizes the use of existing utility infrastructure to reduce costs. Alliance Power performs all aspects of project implementation including siting, planning, permitting, designing, constructing, financing, and operating. The company has a proven team, and has the experience and technology to deliver DG power supplies on schedule - with economical and competitive rates. Alliance Power has a staff experienced in providing power generation development in a variety of settings and for a wide array of clients. Alliance Power's headquarters are located in Littleton, Colorado with regional offices across the United States.

###

More in Energy Management