The nation’s first compressed-hydrogen fueling station for public use will be built at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) as the result of a lease approved by the Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners. The lease calls for Praxair, Inc. of Danbury, Conn., to design, engineer, equip, construct and operate a 600-square-foot facility that will be a prototype of a commercial automobile fueling station.Los Angeles, California – May 5, 2004 [SolarAccess.com] The US$1,580,048 fueling station will be the first facility in the United States to showcase the generation, compression, storage and dispensing of compressed-hydrogen fuel in a limited-production capacity, retail-friendly environment. Praxair is funding construction by spending $550,000 of its own funds, and will receive grants of $351,000 from the South Coast Air Quality Management District, of $499,048 from the U.S. Department of Energy, and $180,000 from British Petroleum. Hydrogen-powered fuel-cell vehicles are considered to be true zero-emission vehicles. (Net zero emissions for the whole process are contingent on how the hydrogen is produced.) As such, Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA), which owns and operates LAX and three other Southern California airports, has been interested in incorporating hydrogen-fuel-cell vehicles into its long-established Alternative Fuels Vehicle Program. The new fueling station will support the recent introduction of hydrogen-fuel-cell demonstration vehicles by major automotive manufacturers, as well as LAWA’s integration of hydrogen-fuel-cell vehicles into its own fleet. Currently, more than 50 percent of LAWA’s vehicle fleet is comprised of alternative-fuel vehicles and LAWA is currently in negotiations to obtain demonstration hydrogen-fuel-cell vehicles for its fleet. The new facility also will serve other Los Angeles City departments with hydrogen-powered vehicles, as well as private customers and other public agencies. “The demonstration fueling station places Los Angeles World Airports and the City of Los Angeles at the forefront of the public’s adoption of zero-emission, hydrogen-fuel technology,” said LAWA Interim Executive Director Kim Day. “This further demonstrates our commitment to improving air quality by identifying and replacing traditional fossil-fuel-powered vehicles and equipment with alternative-fuel vehicles wherever possible.” The lease agreement is for three years, with the option for Praxair to lease the site from LAWA for another two years. No rent would be charged during the first three years, offset by the reversionary value of the improvements that Praxair will construct and turn over to LAWA at the end of the initial three years. Praxair would pay $27,355 annually if it exercised the lease’s options during the fourth and fifth years. The prototype fueling station will operate as a not-for-profit enterprise. The proposed hydrogen fueling station supports the California Fuel Cell Partnership and the Governor’s Hydrogen Highway” that encourages and supports the adoption of hydrogen-fuel-cell technology through public-private efforts. According to state officials, 14 fueling stations for industrial use currently exist. The new facility also supports the federal “FreedomCAR and Fuel Initiative” that seeks to reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil by developing the technology needed for commercially viable hydrogen-powered fuel cells, creating hydrogen infrastructure, and advancing hydrogen automotive technologies. The new fueling station will be built on a portion of an on-airport, alternative-fuel vehicles site on World Way West, where facilities for dispensing liquefied and compressed natural gas (LNG/CNG) already exist. Terms of the lease call for Praxair to complete design and construction no later than six months following commencement of the lease, which is expected to begin in the near future.