A major fuel cell company in the United States has joined with a rural electric utility to promote a federal tax credit for residential fuel cell systems.
CLIFTON, New Jersey, US, 2001-04-03 <SolarAccess.com> H Power Corp. and Energy Co-Opportunity Inc., which serves 1,000 rural electric utility cooperatives and a market of 35 million residential electric customers, have endorsed an alternative energy bill that proposes a $1,000 per kilowatt tax credit for people who purchase a stationary fuel cell system for home use. The bill, sponsored by Representatives Nancy Johnson (R-CT) and Michael McNulty (D-NY), was introduced late last month in the House. “Enactment of this bill can sharply accelerate the adoption of residential fuel cells,” says H Power CEO Frank Gibbard. “At $1,000 per kilowatt, the proposed tax credit would rapidly make residential fuel cells an attractively priced alternative for millions of households.” The company argues that sufficient market penetration for residential cogeneration fuel cells would reduce reliance on the electric grid, improve power quality and reliability, and diminish the need to build both conventional central-generating facilities powered by fossil fuels and the associated high-voltage transmission lines. “Fuel cells are a promising means to deliver energy throughout rural America,” adds Steve Healy, chairman of ECO and chief executive of Pierce Pepin Cooperative Services, an electric co- op in Wisconsin. “By reducing the initial cost, this proposed tax credit would promptly make the fuel cell affordable.” “Demand from rural consumers will speed the kind of manufacturing efficiencies that will further reduce the price of fuel cells,” he explains. H Power and ECO have a ten-year fuel cell distribution partnership, under which ECO will purchase 12,300 fuel cell systems for $81 million. The first residential cogen units, able to supply all the electricity and much of the hot water needs of a typical household, will begin delivery later this year. In addition testing by selected ECO customers, H Power residential fuel cell systems are being field-tested at various locations in the U.S., Canada, France, Finland and Japan. The company’s manufacturing facility in Monroe, North Carolina, will start production of the units later this year. H Power produces proton-exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells which combine hydrogen and oxygen to electrochemically generate electricity. PEM fuel cells are low-maintenance, reliable, highly efficient, environmentally friendly and quiet. The company wants to penetrate other key markets such as back-up power for the telecommunications industry and for portable electronic devices, as a more efficient and reliable alternative to batteries.