The Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC) has announced the successful connection of a 5 kW proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell system into the electric grid.The Woodlands, Texas – September 5, 2002 [SolarAccess.com] The unit, manufactured by Plug Power, is believed to be the first residential size system in Texas connected to the grid using PUC-T interconnection codes. A HARC-organized consortium is testing the system as part of a project to demonstrate the viability of fuel cells as a source of safe, clean and efficient electric power. The Plug Power system is the first in the HARC study to be located outdoors in real-world conditions and the first residential unit to be connected to the electric power grid in Texas, according to George King, director of HARC’s Energy Group. “We are putting energy into HARC’s internal grid to learn whether homes, in the future, can safely generate their own power and even receive emission reduction credits from on-site fuel cell installations,” said King, who cited Entergy Texas’ participation in the effort as an example of cooperating with a utility in a true distributed generation project. The HARC consortium, comprised of Southern Company, Texaco Energy Systems Inc., a unit of ChevronTexaco Technology Ventures, and Walt Disney Imagineering Research & Development Inc., works in partnership to demonstrate promising fuel cell technologies. It is also currently testing units from Avista Labs and Enable Fuel Cell. Plans are under way to expand the consortium to include additional companies with a common interest in investigating the opportunities and challenges related to adopting stationary fuel cells in commercial and residential settings.