Webinar explores mitigating PV interconnections

July 9
11:30 AM – 1:00 PM MDT

Join the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) for the fifth webinar in the Distributed Generation Interconnection CollaborativeRedirecting to a non-government site Informational webinar series. This webinar series is focused on current and emergent processes and protocols for the interconnection of distributed photovoltaics (PV), with the goal of fostering information and data exchange amongst stakeholders.

Mitigation Measures for Distributed PV InterconnectionRedirecting to a non-government site will spotlight recent national laboratory research and feature speakers Michael Coddington, senior electrical engineering researcher and principal investigator in distributed grid integration at NREL and Robert Broderick, principle member of Technical Staff, Grid Integration at Sandia National Laboratories. Coddington will present findings from a recent survey of 19 U.S. electric utilities including current utility screening practices, technical tools and mitigation strategies used for interconnection of PV to the electric distribution system. Broderick will present findings from a recent Sandia survey of 100 small generator interconnection studies, including the most likely impacts of PV system interconnections and an evaluation of the associated costs.

Space is limited so register today. After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

PV interconnection tools for co-ops explored in free webinar

May 28, 2014
9:30-11 a.m. MDT

Join the Distributed Generation Interconnection Collaborative (DGIC) May 28 for the fourth webinar in its informational series. Enhanced Modeling and Monitoring Tools for Distributed PV InterconnectionRedirecting to a non-government site spotlights the challenges rural cooperatives and municipal utilities face in trying to integrate distributed photovoltaic arrays into their grids.

Presentations will highlight the Open Modeling FrameworkRedirecting to a non-government site, a software development effort by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) aimed at making advanced power systems models usable for electric cooperatives.

Rick Thompson, president and cofounder of Green Tech Media, will open the webinar with a brief overview of his company’s new Grid Edge InitiativeRedirecting to a non-government site.

David Pinney, lead software engineer at NRECA, and Mark Rawson, project manager of Advanced, Renewable, and Distributed Generation at Sacramento Municipal Utility DistrictRedirecting to a non-government site (SMUD) are the featured speakers. Participants will learn about SMUD’s pilot project focused on distribution feeder monitoring and the supply of data available to stakeholders for analysis and modeling.

There is no cost to participate in the DGIC webinar series, but registration is required. After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing instructions for joining the event.

This webinar series examines current and emergent processes and protocols for the interconnection of distributed PV, with the goal of fostering information and data exchange among stakeholders. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory facilitates the DGIC with support from the Electric Power Research InstituteRedirecting to a non-government site and Western Area Power Administration.

Stearns Electric crew braves cold, inspects distribution system

[All photos by Stearns Electric Association.]

Western customers are the best when it comes to keeping the lights on, rain or shine, as the Stearns Electric AssociationRedirecting to a non-government site maintenance crew demonstrates.

Each winter, Operations and Maintenance Supervisor Glen Kemper borrows an infrared (IR) camera from our Equipment Loan Program and leads his crew on an inspection of one-fifth of the cooperative’s distribution system. January may not seem like the ideal time to be doing outdoor maintenance in central Minnesota, but, “That’s when the crews are free,” acknowledged Kemper.

Junction boxes house energized conductors, which provide above-ground access points to the underground electrical distribution system. Stearns maintenance crews often have to dig the boxes out of the snow to perform their annual IR inspections.
Junction boxes house energized conductors, which provide above-ground access points to the underground electrical distribution system. Stearns maintenance crews often have to dig the boxes out of the snow to perform their annual IR inspections.

The Rural Utility ServiceRedirecting to a non-government site and National Electric Safety Code requires that Stearns inspect its underground system regularly, a practice that gives the utility a chance to find and repair deteriorated connections that could cause outages if they failed. Kemper chose the Flir E60 for this year’s inspection because it is lightweight and easy to use. “And you don’t have to look through the viewfinder,” he added.

“The viewing screen on the Flir E60 can be manipulated so you can see it from different angles,” explained Gary Hoffmann, program manager for Western’s Equipment Loan Program. “The camera is WiFi-enabled too, so users can see the image on their pads or smartphones.”

Those features allow the crew to set up shots in the tight spaces of the junction boxes and take a few quick shots of “elbow” connectors that terminate the energized conductors. “Then we close up the box and move on to the next one. It takes less than a minute, so we aren’t exposed to the elements for that long,” Kemper pointed out. “Except for the cold weather, it’s a piece of cake.”

This infrared photo reveals the excess heat coming from a loose elbow connection. If the connection was allowed to burn through completely, all Stearns members served by that connection would lose power.
This infrared photo reveals the excess heat coming from a loose elbow connection. If the connection was allowed to burn through completely, all Stearns members served by that connection would lose power.

A good thing, too, since the temperature hit a low of 15 below zero with 20 mph winds during the most recent inspection. One picture of a hot connection in a three-phase module shows a temperature range of minus 6 degrees for the hottest spot, where the connection has deteriorated, to 40 below for the coldest spot. “That low temperature might be a reflection of an object rather than the actual object, but it is all cold,” declared Hoffmann.

The inspection turned up about a dozen elbows or three-point connectors that needed to be replaced. Kemper noted, “Typically, there is a lot of heat load on the system in the winter, so it is easier to see where the problems are.”

This failing elbow arrester was one of several the maintenance crew found and replaced during their inspection. Elbow arresters dissipate excess voltage, typically caused by lightning strikes, before the surge reaches a customer’s home where it might damage electric appliances.
This failing elbow arrester was one of several the maintenance crew found and replaced during their inspection. Elbow arresters dissipate excess voltage, typically caused by lightning strikes, before the surge reaches a customer’s home where it might damage electric appliances.

In addition to regularly borrowing IR cameras from the Equipment Loan Program, Stearns also borrowed the fuel cell demonstration kit. “We set up at an annual member meeting.” Kemper recalled. He added that the staff experimented with the educational display in the office too, but the co-op has no plans at this time to add fuel cell generation to its mix.

The distribution cooperative will continue to borrow the cameras for its annual system inspection and other maintenance projects, however. Members rely on Stearns Electric to keep their homes comfortable throughout the year, and Kemper knows he can rely on Western’s Equipment Loan Program to provide specialized tools to keep his system in good repair.

NREL launches website for distributed PV group

A working group created to provide a forum for exploring issues and solutions related to deploying grid-connected, distributed photovoltaic (PV) resources now has a website where members and stakeholders can find the latest information on the topic.

The Distributed Generation Interconnection Collaborative (DGIC) aims to bring utilities and other energy industry professionals together to arrive at innovative approaches to distributed generation that address concerns of time, costs, grid safety and reliability. The website, hosted by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), provides visitors with a meeting schedule, contact information and a link to registration. Presentations from past webinars are available to download, no password necessary.

DGIC invites stakeholders to participate in monthly webinars focusing on specific PV interconnection practices and related research. Minimum Day Time Load Calculation and ScreeningRedirecting to a non-government site is the subject of the next meeting on April 30. It is the first in a three-part series on supplemental screening procedures. Discussions will cover current and emerging processes and protocols for interconnecting distributed PV, with the goal of encouraging stakeholders to share information and data to improve practices.

Western is partnering with NREL and the Electric Power Research InstituteRedirecting to a non-government site to sponsor the Distributed Generation Interconnection Collaborative. “Western customers are at both ends of the spectrum in terms of experience integrating solar, and at all points in between,” noted Randy Manion, Western Renewable Energy Program manager. “We would like to see as many utilities as possible get involved in DGIC, because each one has something unique and valuable to contribute to the conversation.”

Meetings generally occur on the last Wednesday of each month, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. MDT. Participation is free but registration is required. Topics to be covered in upcoming webinars include:

  • Lessons Learned with Early PV Plant Integration
  • Supplemental Screening Procedures: Voltage and Power Quality
  • Supplemental Screening Procedures: Safety and Reliability
  • Interconnection as Part of a Strategic Resource Planning Process

For more information on how to participate in the DGIC, visit the website or contact Kristen Ardani, NREL Solar Technology Markets and Policy Analyst, at 303-384-6461.

Lakota nonprofit plans sustainable community on Pine Ridge Reservation

Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation Redirecting to a non-government site (CDC) is inviting one of the poorest communities in the nation to try a very different approach to economic development, one that takes time, commitment, willingness to learn and above all, planning.

Students and tribe members are collaborating through the Native American Sustainable Housing Initiative to improve housing conditions on the Pine Ridge Reservation and other tribal lands. (Photo by Thunder Valley Community Development Corp.)
Students and tribe members are collaborating through the Native American Sustainable Housing Initiative to improve housing conditions on the Pine Ridge Reservation and other tribal lands. (Photo by Thunder Valley Community Development Corp.)

From the ground up
The grassroots nonprofit organization in Porcupine, S.D., recently released its ambitious plan to create a sustainable model community on a 34-acre parcel on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Building a Regenerative Community envisions more and better housing on the reservation, increased local business opportunities, a skilled workforce and a healthy, supportive environment for residents. Those goals are challenging enough for communities with a developed infrastructure and large population. But Pine Ridge doesn’t have either, admitted Thunder Valley Executive Director Nick Tilsen. “We are basically starting from scratch,” he said.

By “scratch,” Tilsen means that the Thunder Valley community must produce its own electricity, manage its own water supply and build roads to connect it with the rest of the reservation and beyond. Training local workers to build the community is part of the plan, too, since the nearest large labor pool is 100 miles away in Rapid City.

Having nowhere to go but up has some advantages. The CDC is free to embrace innovative development approaches that don’t rely on an abundance of resources. Proposed projects, such as a water treatment system that returns clean water to the aquifer, could make Thunder Valley the envy of more established cities.

Tilsen acknowledged that being the first adopter has its downside, though. “We are asking bureaucracies to do something they have never done before, and that creates a lot of interest,” he said. “But these agencies have built regulations around one way of doing things. It is going to take time to find a way around those barriers.”

Public weighs in
Although it lacks the tax base to build infrastructure, Pine Ridge Reservation has engaged citizens who want a better future for themselves and their families on tribal lands.

Tribe members participated in listening and visioning sessions, town hall-style meetings and stakeholder design charrettes to identify the goals and objectives for the Thunder Valley community. (Photo by Thunder Valley Community Development Corp.)
Tribe members participated in listening and visioning sessions, town hall-style meetings and stakeholder design charrettes to identify the goals and objectives for the Thunder Valley community. (Photo by Thunder Valley Community Development Corp.)

The project grew out of the yearly Thunder Valley Sundance, when organizers and participants found themselves discussing the many problems facing native youth. The idea of creating a local nonprofit organization to address social, economic and cultural issues took root. After community outreach to set priorities and gain residents’ buy-in, the Thunder Valley CDC formed and attained nonprofit status in 2007.

Community involvement continued over the next six years as tribe members attended a series of listening and visioning sessions, town hall-style meetings and stakeholder design charrettes Redirecting to a non-government site. The meetings produced the main objectives for a regenerative development that focused on creating a low-impact, self-sufficient community where people could live and work and continue their culture and traditions.

Partners, funding line up
A conceptual master plan, based on the main objectives, began attracting partners and funding to the Thunder Valley Regenerative Community. Oglala Lakota College Redirecting to a non-government site (OLC), University of Colorado (CU) School of Environmental Design Redirecting to a non-government site and the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology Redirecting to a non-government site entered into service learning partnerships with the CDC and the Oglala Sioux Housing Authority Redirecting to a non-government site. The partnership is exploring sustainable, affordable housing prototypes. “Thunder Valley is going to be a living laboratory,” noted Tilsen. “It offers academic institutions a clean slate for learning, research and study and evaluation.”

Several programs in the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provided the project with funding for planning, land purchases and construction. The CU School of Environmental Design also received a HUD grant to research sustainable housing models on Pine Ridge. The Environmental Protection Agency, Administration for Native Americans Redirecting to a non-government site and Department of Agriculture (USDA) also contributed funding to small projects within the overarching plan.

Last May, Thunder Valley CDC brought its partners together for a workshop aimed at integrating all the facets of the plan in a final report. Within the context of population, density, land use, building types and infrastructure; a roadmap emerged to provide affordable, efficient homes; produce all energy onsite; clean all wastewater onsite and create a vital, new Lakota-grown economy.

A place to live, work
The master plan includes office and industrial space, recreation and social service facilities, a market, food gardens, community gathering areas and water treatment facilities. Expanding workforce housing on the reservation, however, is top priority. “Between five and six thousand people work on the reservation, but only 2,500 to 3,000 people live here,” explained Tilsen. “We have no rental stock, so 51 percent of our workforce commutes from outside towns. People tend to spend their paychecks where they live, so wages generated on the reservation don’t stay here.”

Phase I of the project focuses on building 31 single-family homes, with the help of the future homeowners. This strategy makes the home more affordable for the owner who is able to contribute up to 60 percent of the labor. The “sweat equity” model also builds marketable skills locally—and something more. “Helping to build your own home is empowering,” observed Tilsen. “It will give homeowners a feeling of accomplishment and self-sufficiency, and knowledge they can share with their community.”

Efficiency first
Low energy use is central to both self-sufficiency and affordability. The Native American Sustainable Housing Initiative Redirecting to a non-government site (NASHI), a joint research project with CDC’s academic partners, seeks to determine what type of building technology will prove most efficient on the reservation.

Students from CU and OLC are building four houses: one with conventional framing, and one each using insulated panels, straw bale construction and compressed-earth blocks. Sensors will be placed throughout the homes to see which style is most efficient at least cost. The answers are not as clear as they might seem, added Tilsen. “Straw bale buildings may not need much energy to heat and cool, but local farmers don’t practice small baling, so the material has to be shipped in,” he said. “Sustainability isn’t just one thing. It’s a big picture.”

This recently completed straw bale house is part of a research project by NASHI to determine what type of construction technology best meets the needs of Pine Ridge residents and the goals of the Thunder Valley plan. (Photo by Thunder Valley Community Development Corp.)
This recently completed straw bale house is part of a research project by NASHI to determine what type of construction technology best meets the needs of Pine Ridge residents and the goals of the Thunder Valley plan. (Photo by Thunder Valley Community Development Corp.)

In the big picture, Thunder Valley is being planned as a net-zero energy community. The absence of a pre-existing infrastructure will actually make it easier to build in efficiency. Planners can site buildings for optimal solar panel angle and daylight harvesting, and install efficient systems like ground source heat pumps and gravity-fed, decentralized water treatment. Making thermal materials and insulative construction systems standard building practice will further reduce energy requirements.

Democratization of energy
The master plan relies primarily on rooftop solar arrays to meet most of the community’s energy needs. “But biomass and wind have good potential, too,” Tilsen added.

A large wind turbine on a hill near the community would supplement the solar generation. Small individual wind turbines installed on office buildings and solar panels in parking areas could meet increased electrical demand in the future. The CDC is exploring leasing roof space to the community and other possible financing models. “We believe that it is critical for the community’s economic development and stability to own and produce the energy we consume,” stated Tilsen.

A micro-grid system is planned to tie into the rural utility grid that now supplies electricity to the reservation. The Oglala Lakota tribe receives an allocation from Western through LaCreek Electric Association Redirecting to a non-government site, Black Hills Electric Cooperative Redirecting to a non-government site, Nebraska Public Power District Redirecting to a non-government site and West River Electric Association Redirecting to a non-government site. Remaining connected to the grid would provide Thunder Valley with backup power in case of an outage. The community would also be able to offset some costs by selling excess generation and greenhouse gas credits through the utilities.

Ups, downs ahead
At a time when developers toss up new neighborhoods in a matter of months—or weeks—Thunder Valley CDC expects to take years to complete the planned community.

Having completed the preliminary engineering study and environmental assessment the CDC is now working with USDA to create an application process for potential homeowners to apply to build their own homes in the development. Developing permitting documents for infrastructure and buildings, and establishing a property management company and a homeownership training program are all part of Phase I.

The tribe will also be applying for several grants related to rural and tribal infrastructure. Growing this partnership is especially important to the CDC because it will help spread the benefits and lessons of Thunder Valley beyond the development itself. “Not everyone on the reservation is going to want to live in the planned community,” explained Tilsen. “We have to find ways to use what we have learned to lift up the whole tribe.”

The goal, and the stakes, for Thunder Valley Regenerative Community are clearly higher than those for most planned developments. The CDC has taken the first steps on the long journey to true sustainability, and is prepared for the odd side trip and dead end. “We will learn as much from our failures as we will from our successes,” Tilsen stated. “You can’t build something new overnight.”

DOE funding available for projects to improve electric grid

The Energy Department announced on Feb. 7 that it is offering up to $7 million in funding to advance the design of technologies that help communities become more adaptive and prepared for power outages caused by severe weather and other events.

Microgrids are localized grids that are normally connected to the existing electric grid but can disconnect to operate autonomously, manage and control the flow of electricity and help mitigate grid disturbances. These distributed systems are able to cost-effectively integrate storage and distributed generation such as renewable energy, while also supporting demand management programs.

The Microgrid Research, Development and System Design funding opportunity will help communities to take an innovative and comprehensive approach to microgrid design and implementation. Technology developers and providers must partner with communities and utilities to design microgrid systems of up to 10 megawatts, which is enough to power a small community. Systems that protect critical infrastructure, such as hospitals and water treatment plants, will also receive favorable consideration.

For more details on the Microgrid Research, Development, and System Design FOA, visit Grants.gov and FedConnect.net. Use reference number DE-FOA-0000997. The FOA includes information about cost-sharing requirements for government-industry cooperation. The deadline for submitting applications is April 28, 2014.

Riverside honored as ‘Top Intelligent Community’ for 2012

Western congratulates municipal customer Riverside, Calif.Redirecting to a non-government site for being named “Intelligent Community of the Year” for 2012 by the Intelligent Community Forum Redirecting to a non-government site (ICF).

One of the programs called out by ICF was the 2004 launch of a high tech taskforce to identify ways to channel California’s high-tech growth into the community. The high tech taskforce produced a comprehensive report on ways for the city to augment technology and spur innovation in the area. Additionally, Riverside’s Technology CEO Forum and SmartRiverside Redirecting to a non-government site were recognized. Other highlighted accomplishments included the establishment of the University Research Park, the free WIFI network which offers up to 1 Mbps service through 1,600 access points, e-government applications such as traffic management, graffiti tracking and removal, and Riverside’s the Digital Inclusion program.

ICF, based in New York, N.Y., is dedicated to the growth of broadband technology in communities worldwide. Each year, seven communities are recognized for achieving key markers of success in the 21st century, including: high technology, workforce development, digital inclusion, arts, innovation, collaboration and social capital.

The other six communities named to this year’s Top Seven Intelligent Communities are:

  • Austin, Texas (another public power city)
  • Oulu, Finland
  • Quebec City, Quebec, Canada
  • Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada
  • Stratford, Ontario, Canada
  • Taichung City, Taiwan

New-age Distributed Generation: Emerging on-site generation options for your customers

Tom Geist, a senior project manager at Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), kicked off the session by announcing that the perfect power source doesn’t exist. However, there are lots of options, so it will be increasingly up to utilities to choose the one(s) that best fits the need.

EPRI explains DG
Distributed generation is often used interchangeably with distributed resources, but that is inaccurate. Distributed resources equal distributed generation plus energy storage plus controls (load management).

The importance of distributed generation for utilities is that it offers the opportunity to reduce transmission and distribution line loss, anywhere from a few percentage points up. Distributed generation gives system planners more flexibility, and allows utilities to make better ancillary services a worthy product. Most importantly, customers care about the improved power quality, reliability, efficiency and lower costs distributed generation can enhance. Utilities can create customized solutions for customers around distributed generation systems.

How EPRI picks the best
EPRI deals with products just out of the laboratory, test them and demonstrates the technology in the field. The reports from those tests are available to all utility subscribers.

To help utilities determine which technologies are the most valuable, EPRI takes the system view—every technology is a system composed of multiple technologies: source, conversion, storage, power electronics. Hence, comparison is difficult.

The metrics EPRI applies to technologies are price, size, weight, energy, power, efficiency, safety, reliability and life cycle. Any one of these can determine success or failure of application. People tend to focus on one of the sub-systems, sometimes at the expense of the entire system.

Proven technologies aplenty
There are lots of proven distributed generation technologies which meet some of the metrics but not others. Solar turbines from the Caterpillar Company have been operating commercially since the 1940s. This technology presents a golden opportunity for capturing waste heat. Typically, 25 percent of power is lost in conversion, but 42 percent can be recovered through combined heat and power (CHP) technology.

 Conventional fuel cells are another proven technology. They usually provide a small amount of base load power, but are bulky, complex to operate, can be expensive and have short life cycles. The phosphoric acid fuel cell runs at a high temperature, offering CHP possibilities. It needs to be operated in parallel with the grid. The catalyst makes use of platinum, an expensive metal, so scaling up is costly. Solid oxide and proton exchange membrane fuel cells are similar to phosphoric acid types.

Micro turbines are based on turbocharger technology found in aircraft auxiliary power units. They usually generate less than a MW of base load power with CHP potential.

Flow batteries are similar to conventional batteries except that the electrodes are charged liquid. This technology has good energy density and cycle life; it is long-lasting, scalable with the potential for lower cost, but has failed to generate much interest.

Another type of battery familiar to everyone with a lap top or cell phone is the lithium ion battery. It has made tremendous advances in the past two decades, but the challenge is to scale up to larger applications. It has safety issues, one being the potential to catch fire during charging, especially the large batteries.

The advanced lead-acid battery is an improved version of the familiar lead carbon system. This technology has a very good cycle life and is good for large systems.

Utilities can use all of these technologies for peak shaving, load leveling and improved reliability.

Technologies on the way
The one emerging technology on every utility’s radar is the smart grid, with its promise of improved performance.  It is evolutionary, not revolutionary, a matter of applying communications controls to existing technology. EPRI is conducting 11 regional smart grid demonstrations.

 The future is not one size fits all. Invest in new technology – they are coming. Distributed generation is a customized solution with great potential.

Thin film solar comes to Florida
Julio Baroso from Keys Energy in Florida talked about a 30 kW thin-film solar project his utility installed on the Eco-Discovery Center.

It started with a cold call between the Keys Energy general manager and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The Florida Municipal Power Agency became involved later. Total project cost $235,928, with NOAA contributing about $90,000.

Advanced Green Technologies was only vendor who answered Keys’ RFP with a thin film solution. Keys wanted to try something new, since traditional panels are a problem in hurricanes. A system that lays flat on the roof is a better solution. Also, there are a lot of historic buildings in the Florida Keys, usually owned by the customers most likely to be interested in alternative energy, so the utility wanted to showcase a system designed to work with architecture in historic district.

Installation is simple—just peel off the adhesive backing and roll it down. All connections take place at peak of roof.  The system was completed in about one day. It was only one year from the first phone call to powering up the system at end of 2009.

The system does not have backup a storage battery because its output does not exceed museum use.

The educational component, including a kiosk, is an important aspect of the project. Keys wanted to introduce customers to a different type of solar system. The Eco-Discovery Center is good fit with its focus on the environment of the Florida Keys.

And now, the Bloom Box
The final presentation came from Bloom Energy of 60 Minutes fame. The show put the company in the spotlight for its green attributes, but the Bloom Box is a total distributed generation solution.

The “old school” model the Bloom Box seeks to replace is “generation plus transmission.” The technology combines the two onsite. That may sound far-fetched, but computing and telephones are good examples of connected technology now gone distributed.

Bloom Box generators start at 100 kW, and can be scaled up to 1 MW. The modular design means that there is no need to shut the generator down entirely to service it. The company guarantees a 10-year performance, with ongoing service agreement.

The system doesn’t require water during operation, although it needs a little for start up. It is not suitable for customers who have an application for hot water, but if it is just electricity they need, the Bloom Box is for them. So far, it is only scaled for commercial applications.

What makes it marketable
For a new energy resource to move into the marketplace, it has to be more than reliable and affordable. It must be also be clean and easy. Legacy generators—coal, nuclear—are dirty, complicated and high maintenance or unreliable and intermittent—solar, wind. Legacy fuel cells are expensive, complicated.

Bloom has all four attributes. The first Bloom Box was installed in 2008, but the company waited to tell the story because fuel cells have baggage. A reliable affordable fuel cell has been five years away from market for last 25 years. This is an entirely different type of fuel cell, so the company waited to let customers announce their installations.

The Bloom Box works because of low-cost materials. The central component is a “flat, square piece of sand,” not platinum. It is an all-electric technology that approaches 50 percent efficiency, and is fuel-flexible—propane, ethanol, natural gas—it can run on anything with carbon and hydrogen. Electricity is generated by a direct electro-chemical reaction. It is a base load, not intermittent, solution with no waste heat.

The value propositions the technology offers to utilities are lower energy costs, clean power, pay-as-you-grow scalability, primary power, reliability, fuel flexibility and ease of installation.

With Federal and state incentives, a Bloom Box pays the owner back in less than five years. In California, it provides price stability and can help California emission reduction goals. Running on natural gas, it produces only 50 percent of the emissions of conventional generation. On biogas, it is a zero emissions power source.  

Early adopters include ebay, Coca Cola, Fed Ex, Google, Staples and Walmart.

For utilities, the Bloom Box is a way to invest in the future. The technology provides superior customer service, power supply management and distribution performance. Working with customers to install a Bloom Box demonstrates environmental leadership to policy makers.

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