Fuel Cell Eliminates School System’s Outages

A unique fuel cell system has proved its worth for the computer center at an upstate New York school system. The Onendaga-Cortland-Madison Board of Cooperative Educational Services (OCM BOCES) recently announced that all computer outages associated with normal grid fluctuations have been eliminated at its computer center through the use of a fuel cell system.

The fuel cell system, a model PC25 commercial power plant, was developed by International Fuel Cells Inc. and manufactured by its sister company, ONSI Corp. Both are subsidiaries of United Technologies Corp. The system was installed and is being maintained by Niagara Mohawk Energy of Syracuse, N.Y., an unregulated affiliate of Niagara Mohawk Power Corp. “The power glitch is history at OCM BOCES,” said Michael Fay, director of facilities and operations for the school system. “The fuel cell system has eliminated the problem, and I believe it has saved us operating expenses as well.”

At the time of this announcement, the fuel cell had operated for more than 22,000 hours without experiencing a brownout, weather-related power failure or other power interruption. Before installing the fuel cell, Fay said the OCM BOCES computer system shut down every time it experienced even short-term power imbalances. “The computer downtime was an expensive waste of productivity, both for our staff and for thousands of students who suddenly found themselves without Internet access,” he said. “Elimination of computer downtime means more learning and productivity in the classroom.”

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