USA/Long Island - LIPA plans new type of generator

Long Island Power Authority has been quietly testing out fuel cell technology

During the past few years the Long Island Power Authority has been quietly testing out fuel cell technology by installing boxy, beige fuel units at local hospitals, universities, town halls and even a McDonald's in North Babylon to supply supplementary power. Yesterday LIPA issued a request for proposals for what company officials say would be the biggest fuel cell generation project in the country: a 10-megawatt facility in West Babylon that could provide enough electricity to power 10,000 homes. The plant would be built at LIPA's West Babylon substation - where the power authority previously set up a 75-cell pilot project that fed electricity directly into the grid - and is slated to be up and running by next summer.

LIPA officials said the fuel cell facility, along with other wind and solar power projects, will help Long Island meet Gov. George Pataki's goal of having 25 percent of the state's electricity demand met by renewable energy sources. While the fuel cells would run on natural gas, which is not a renewable resource, the technology is included in the state's Renewable Portfolio Standard, LIPA spokesman Bert Cunningham said. Fuel cells supply cleaner power than conventional power plants, which burn fossil fuel to produce usable electricity. Instead of combustion, fuel cells convert fuel to energy through a more efficient electrochemical process that produces "substantially" fewer emissions, said Daniel Zaweski, LIPA's director of energy efficiency and distributed generation programs.

The developer LIPA eventually selects for the project would build, own and operate the facility for up to 20 years and would pay nothing for use of the site. The developer also would bear the cost of connecting with LIPA's electric distribution system and with the local natural gas distribution company. LIPA would in turn enter into a purchase agreement to buy electricity produced there and would supply the natural gas needed to run the facility.

While newer technologies such as fuel cells tend to be more expensive than traditional power plants, LIPA officials said they expect the rising cost of fossil fuels to make alternative energy sources more competitive. "We don't expect this to have any impact on people's bills whatsoever," Kessel said. Representatives from local environmental and community groups at the news conference praised the fuel cell project, saying it would help reduce Long Island's dependency on oil and provide more reliable power than solar panels or wind turbines.
Online Editorial, www.windfair.net
Trevor Sievert, Online Editorial Journalist
USA, LIPA, wind turbine, wind energy, wind power, wind farm, rotor blade, onshore, offshore

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