Campus: NORTHRIDGE -- May 17, 2006

Fuel Cell Energy Plant to Add to CSUN's Green Power Efforts

The California State University Board of Trustees yesterday gave its nod of approval to the installation of a 1 megawatt fuel cell power plant at Cal State Northridge. The facility incorporates the most efficient power plant technology currently available and will provide additional environmental friendly power to the campus.

The power plant will provide a unique opportunity for students in the College of Science and Mathematics to study the carbon dioxide enrichment potential provided by fuel cell power plants. University officials plan to route carbon dioxide exhaust from the plant's heat exchanger into CSUN's Botanical Gardens and an adjacent greenhouse to enhance photosynthesis. The plant also will give students in the College of Engineering and Computer Science, who will play a role in the plant's installation, an opportunity to study the latest technology in energy efficiency.

Cal State Northridge Vice President for Administration and Finance Mohammed Qayoumi said the addition of the fuel cell power plant to the campus is just another example of the university's commitment to sustainability and energy efficiency.

"Cal State Northridge strives to be at the leading edge of energy conservation and environmental stewardship. We hope to serve as a role model not just for our students and the community, but for the rest of higher education as well," Qayoumi said.

The university purchased a high efficiency Directed FuelCell® (DFC) power plant from FuelCell Energy, Inc., a leading manufacturer of ultra-clean and efficient electrical power generation plants based in Connecticut, for more than $3 million. The plant will generate the base load electricity for the university's facilities and surplus heat for hot water.

"The DFC power plant will provide us with a base load option that reduces the strain on the California power grid, improves our energy independence and power reliability, manages our energy and operational costs well into the future, and helps the environment," said Tom Brown, director of CSUN's Physical Plant Management. "In leading by example, we are demonstrating how clean electricity can cost effectively power our campus."

The university has begun earth and foundation work for the plant, which is expected to be in place by the end of the year. The plant will be operated by CSUN's Physical Plant Management with technical support from FuelCell Energy and its partner, Alliance Power, Inc.

Cal State Northridge has long been considered a leader in energy conservation among universities across the country. It was hailed five years ago by the Clean Air Coalition for its use of alternative energy.

In 2001, the campus installed six microturbines through a partnership with the South Coast Air Quality District and Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) as a way to save energy and reduce its reliance on the state's fragile electrical grid.

The university, with support from LADWP and Southern California Gas Company (The Gas Company), also has installed nearly 6,000 solar panels totaling nearly 700,000 watts of power on the campus as a way of providing power while saving energy and reducing power costs.

The Gas Company has committed to providing up to $2.25 million in incentive funding to Northridge to support the installation of the fuel cell plant. LADWP has committed an additional $500,000 in incentive funds for the plant.

CSUN's plant will be the single largest fuel cell power plant at any university in the world, and is the seventh DFC plant of any capacity installed at a university. FuelCell Energy officials said institutions of higher education represent an excellent application of fuel cells' 24/7 electrical generation--where they can power academic facilities during the day and address critical base load needs at night.

Because the units are quiet and environmentally friendly, officials said, they often can be sited close to classrooms and dorms where energy is needed. Other university sites with DFC power plant installations include Yale University, Ocean County College in New Jersey, Grand Valley State University in Michigan, State University of New York at Syracuse, Chosun University Hospital in Korea and Pohang University in Korea.

"Universities have used cogeneration to great effect in the past, and now we're seeing students press their institutions to create and use even more clean energy," said R. Daniel Brdar, president and CEO of FuelCell Energy. "This is a market that's expanding, and it comprises many megawatts for colleges and universities around the country. California's state university system alone is the largest in North America."

Contact: Carmen Ramos Chandler, (818) 677-2130, carmen.chandler@csun.edu


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