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New Fuel Cell Dedicated at SUNY ESF Campus by College, NYPA and NYSERDA

Brian Warner
Dave White, SUNY ESF
518-862-1090, ext. 3356

February 21, 2006


SYRACUSE–A new ultra-clean energy machine will soon produce 250 kilowatts (kw) of continuous green power for the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY ESF) here.

College President Cornelius Murphy Jr. was joined by representatives of the New York Power Authority (NYPA), New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and equipment manufacturer FuelCell Energy at campus ceremonies Tuesday afternoon to mark the pending operation of a high-temperature, carbonate fuel cell, which in addition to generating electricity, will provide residual heat for hot water and heating on campus.

“SUNY ESF is proud to be part of the transition to more energy-efficient power production. Fuel cells, in addition to being very energy efficient, also have a reduced environmental footprint. The carbonate fuel cell we dedicate today will supply 17 percent of the electricity used on campus,” Dr. Murphy said.

He continued, “Our next step is to acquire a gasifier that can convert wood residues and biomass into a synthetic gas to drive the fuel cell instead of the natural gas we are using to start up the system. The future demands that we find renewable energy resources.”

“Under Governor Pataki’s leadership, the New York Power Authority has worked diligently with public facilities throughout the state for use of the latest clean energy technologies, including fuel cells,” said Angelo Esposito, NYPA vice president Energy Services and Technologies. “NYPA Chairman Joseph Seymour, and Tim Carey, our president and CEO, stand foursquare behind our investment in these technologies, for enhancing air quality, and the diversity of the electric power system, along with displacing foreign oil.  The carbonate fuel cell that we helped to arrange for and finance here meets all those standards.”

Esposito noted that the fuel cell will help SUNY ESF meet the requirements of Governor Pataki’s 2001 Executive Order 111 for state facilities to purchase 20 percent of their power from renewables by 2010. (In 2003, the Governor also established the goal for at least 25 percent of the state’s electricity to come from renewables by 2013, as part of a Renewable Portfolio Standard later adopted by the New York State Public Service Commission.)

“SUNY ESF and its leadership have been great partners in helping to develop clean energy technologies for the state,” said Peter R. Smith, NYSERDA president. “Now we are pleased to support their effort to deploy clean energy resources to help meet a portion of their energy needs on campus and give students first-hand experience in fuel cell technology. Also, the project has the potential to generate additional research opportunities for further development and testing of fuel cell membranes to help improve the technology.”

NYSERDA provided a $1 million grant for the SUNY ESF fuel cell. The project is also receiving a $250,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) Climate Change Fuel Cell Program, and a $100,000 grant from the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI).

FuelCell Energy of Danbury, Connecticut, manufactured the 250-kilowatt fuel cell, which is designed for large-scale industrial and commercial applications.  Carbonate fuel cells operate at higher temperatures and greater efficiencies than other fuel cells. All fuel cells use a chemical process, instead of combustion, to generate electricity.

“Another key advantage of our Direct FuelCell products is that they can operate on a variety of methane-based fuels, allowing ESF to begin operation on natural gas and then switch to biomass fuels when their gasifier is in place,” said John Franceschina, vice president of Business Development for FuelCell Energy. “We commend NYPA, NYSERDA, DOD and EPRI for their support in this project, and together with our distribution partners, Caterpillar and Milton Cat Inc., we are proud to be part of ESF’s drive for clean and efficient on-site power generation.”

“The teamwork demonstrated in this project is a great example of the way Caterpillar and its dealers work with customers and key partners to provide unique power solutions for today’s world,” said Walt Bradbury, general manager for North America for Caterpillar’s Electric Power Division.

The SUNY ESF installation, which is expected to reduce oil use by 3,500 barrels a year, is the fourth carbonate fuel cell at an American college. The others are at Yale University in Connecticut, Ocean County College in New Jersey and Grand Valley State University in Michigan.

In addition to helping to facilitate SUNY-ESF’s use of clean, renewable energy, NYPA and the college have partnered to enhance the campus’ energy efficiency. Later this spring, ESF’s facility managers will begin using two new energy-efficient chillers installed over the winter by NYPA for the 2006 air-conditioning season. Variable-speed pumps and motors were also part of the $1.3 million project, which will result in nearly $60,000 in annual energy savings, while improving the comfort level in classrooms and laboratories.

The Power Authority has undertaken other energy-efficiency initiatives in Onondaga County for various municipalities, school districts, and universities, lowering their annual electric bills by nearly $600,000 a year. To date, NYPA has completed 1,450 clean energy- and- efficiency projects at more than 2,350 public facilities statewide, for annual savings of $92 million and reduction in peak electricity use by 193,000 kilowatts, or the amount of power for about 150,000 homes. These initiatives have also reduced annual greenhouse gas emissions by 730,000 tons and dependence on foreign oil by more than 1.5 million barrels a year.

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