Under a $7 million program designed to show how fuel cell technology may ultimately generate electricity for residential customers, the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) today announced that it will connect 75 fuel cells to its electric grid at its West Babylon substation this summer.
The program is intended to begin identifying and developing the measures and systems needed to facilitate the eventual use of fuel cells operating in parallel with, and contributing to the overall reliability and performance of LIPA’s electrical grid system.
Site planning is underway and construction is expected to start in July. The fuel cells are being manufactured by Plug Power, of Latham, NY, and are expected to produce over one million kilowatt hours of electricity over the duration of the program, which is enough to power about 100 average-sized homes.
By connecting the fuel cells directly to the transmission grid, the electricity created by the fuel cells will be distributed to customers through LIPA’s electric transmission and distribution system. It will be the first large-scale use of fuel cells for this purpose in New York State.
The program is being funded through LIPA’s Clean Energy Initiative (CEI). The CEI is a five-year, $170 million program, proposed by Governor Pataki, that is designed, in part, to foster the development and application of clean energy technologies, such as fuel cells, solar, wind generation and geothermal. LIPA’s CEI program also offers 11 energy conservation and load management programs that residential and commercial customers can take advantage of to reduce electric consumption and save money.
LIPA has previously worked with Plug Power to help advance the development of fuel cell technology. Under a LIPA-financed program, seven fuel cells were field tested at locations around Long Island last year to gain operational experience that was integral to the development of the current generation of fuel cell power systems.
LIPA owns the retail electric system on Long Island, and provides electric service to nearly 1.1 million customers in Nassau and Suffolk counties, and the Rockaway Peninsula in Queens. LIPA does not provide natural gas service.