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Nation's First Propane Fuel Cell Installed

Montrose, CO - Delta-Montrose Electric Association

(Montrose, CO) As the spectacular San Juan Range of the Colorado Rockies glistened in the distance from a recent snowfall, H Power technicians prepared for the start-up of a breakthrough power technology that will help protect such pristine environments.
At 9:30 a.m., Monday, April 03, 2000, employees of the Delta-Montrose Electric Association (DMEA) made history with the start up of a 10 kW propane-powered fuel cell system at DMEA’s corporate headquarters in Montrose, Colorado. This prototype, built by H Power of Clifton, N.J., is reputedly the first in the nation outside of a laboratory which runs on propane, a fuel readily available in areas served by rural electric cooperatives.

“We’re proud to be in the vanguard of fuel cell installations nationally,” said Dan McClendon, DMEA’s general manager. “Sixty-two years ago our cooperative was formed to bring electric power to rural areas at a time when for-profit utilities were not interested in providing electric service to our communities. Fuel cells--particularly propane powered fuel cells--represent an exciting way to continue our mission of providing power to areas not currently served through traditional means. Fuel cells will also provide more options and benefits for all of our members.”

“We are very pleased to have delivered the first unit of our propane-powered fuel cell generating system to DMEA for field testing,” said Dr. H. Frank Gibbard, H Power’s CEO. “DMEA was our first contact in the rural electric cooperative community.”

DMEA’s propane fuel cell is the first of a series of units which will be installed this spring by rural electric cooperatives working with Energy Co-Opportunities (ECO), a national cooperative created to assist electric distribution cooperatives diversify into new energy services. ECO recently entered into a partnership with H Power (, a world leader in fuel cell technology, to bring residential and small commercial fuel cells to rural electric cooperatives and their members.

“The installation at DMEA’s building will help sharpen the cutting edge of this technology and hasten the time when ECO fuel cells will be available to members of DMEA and other cooperatives across the nation,” said Bill Cetti, ECO’s vice-president of distributed generation solutions. “We appreciate DMEA’s leadership and hard work in making this historic event possible.”

“Rural electric cooperatives represent an ideal market for the first wave of residential fuel cells, expected to be available in the summer of 2001,” said Paul Bony, DMEA’s manager of marketing and customer service, who also sits on ECO’s technical advisory committee. “There are many areas in rural America where it is prohibitively expensive to run power lines. Fuel cells offer an economical opportunity to serve these areas with clean, reliable electricity.”

“Fuel cells will be an increasingly important component of the world’s energy future,” says McClendon. “Fuel cells also support two important cooperative values--sustainable economic development and environmental stewardship. Our Board of Directors is especially pleased by the positive environmental aspects of this technology.”

The Delta-Montrose Electric Association will unveil its prototype fuel cell to the public on Earth Day, April 22. DMEA will also host a press conference and industry/government forum on fuel cells featuring the H Power/ECO propane fuel cell on May 16, 2000.

Contact: Tom Polikalas
Phone: 970.240.1245
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