Electric cooperative orders 50 direct hydrogen fuel cells for member utilities

HERNDON, Va., May 30, 2002 — Energy Co-Opportunity (ECO), an alternative energy business owned by more than 300 electric cooperative utilities in the U.S., recently placed an order with H Power Corp. for 50 of H Power’s 500-watt EPAC direct hydrogen fuel cells.

ECO began demonstrating prototypes of the small fuel cells in February, and placed the order based on the interest it has received from its member utilities.

“The cooperatives have responded with enthusiasm to the availability of a small, portable fuel cell that is simple to operate and provides high-quality, reliable power,” says Bill Cetti, President and CEO of ECO. “Our members have identified a number of outdoor applications where they believe this product will provide unique value, including power for telecommunications towers, radio transmitters, signal lights, billboards, and as emergency back-up for critical circuits.”

This purchase marks the first significant sale made under ECO’s new contract with H Power, which gives ECO access to products such as the EPAC. ECO’s relationship with H Power has focused on the testing and demonstration of H Power’s 4.5-kilowatt residential cogeneration fuel cell (RCU), which runs on propane or natural gas.

“The RCU testing is going extremely well, and that has raised interest among the co-ops in using a portable fuel cell to meet some of their smaller but critical needs, such as short-term emergency power during a line outage,” says Brian Wierenga, Vice President of ECO Fuel Cells. “Other co-ops intend to use the EPAC for education and demonstration. One member co-op in Kansas will be bringing the EPAC to public school systems, complete with a curriculum produced by a local university.”

H Power has been shipping prototype EPACs for two months and is readying its manufacturing facility in Monroe, North Carolina for full commercial production of the EPAC later this year.

“Our member utilities are breaking new ground in their hands-on involvement in the development of the RCU fuel cell,” says Paul Smith, Director of ECO Energy Solutions and Sales. “They will continue to be industry leaders as early adopters of the EPAC, demonstrating the unique properties of the fuel cell and how valuable those properties can be to a customer.”

ECO members have reported that certain customers have a very low tolerance for power sources that make noise or pollution, or require a lot of attention. “The EPAC will be worth its weight in gold to those customers who need a reliable power source and absolutely must have, or want to have, a power source that operates silently and with no emissions,” Wierenga says.

About ECO
Energy Co-Opportunity (ECO) is an energy services cooperative established in 1998 to provide distributed energy solutions to the U.S. electric cooperative industry. ECO provides electric cooperatives with access to distributed generation technologies, including fuel cells, gas turbines and photovoltaics; access to alternative fuels such as propane and natural gas, and consulting, education and training in all aspects of energy diversification. ECO is headquartered in Herndon, Virginia. For more information, go to www.eco.coop.

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