GARDEN CITY, N.Y., Sept. 21 /PRNewswire/ -- Verizon has built and is now operating the largest fuel cell project of its kind in the country, using environmentally friendly devices to supply electric power at a large call- switching center and office building here. At a news conference here today, Verizon Chairman and CEO Ivan Seidenberg said the seven fuel cells -- built by UTC Power of South Windsor, Conn. -- are not only good for the environment but they also reduce dependence on commercial electric power and provide another layer of network reliability in the event of a disaster. "The fuel cells we are using here today help Verizon provide customers even more reliable communications services, whether for phone calls or high- speed data transmission, and at the same time the power is environmentally friendly and efficiently produced," Seidenberg said. "We now look forward to studying this remarkable technology as it is being used over a period of years on such a large scale for the first time." U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer said, "With energy costs continuing to soar, it is critical that we continue to develop alternative sources of energy. I commend the cooperative efforts of Verizon and the federal and state governments to install fuel-cell-powered technology that will provide additional clean power options and fuel sources capable of generating the company's own power requirements and contributing to the needs of the surrounding community and electric grid in a power emergency." U.S. Rep. Carolyn McCarthy said, "The recent addition of fuel cell technology here at Verizon represents only the beginning for this technology on Long Island. The private sector has shown that they are willing to invest in this technology because they recognize the value and environmental responsibility that it represents. I believe the federal government can play an active role in supporting the advancement of fuel cell technology and reducing emissions by continuing to invest in the technology and doing all it can to assist both the private sector and local governments that want to provide a safe, quiet and clean source of power." Fuel cells are a technology first pioneered by NASA for manned space flight. They generate electrical power through the combination of hydrogen and oxygen atoms, giving off water and heat as byproducts. Verizon's Garden City project is unique because the existing commercial power grid, the new fuel cells and existing Verizon backup power work together to meet any set of operational needs required at the building. They include electrical backup for commercial power outages, natural disasters and periods of peak commercial power demands. Major funding for the project was provided by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Verizon also expects to receive some funding from New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). "As part of the President's plan to modernize the electric grid, it is critical to demonstrate technologies which add reliability and resiliency to the grid," said Kevin Kolevar, director of DOE's Office of Electricity Reliability and Energy Security. "The same is true of our telecommunications infrastructure. Upgrading both systems concurrently can mean efficiency gains for both business and the consumer." Details of Verizon Fuel Cell Project "While we now use fuel cells to supply much of the power we need here, we remain connected to the commercial power grid supplied by project partner Long Island Power Authority, and our existing mix of generators and battery backups also remains on standby for periods of peak demand as well as outages," said Adolfo Reyes, Verizon real estate executive director and leader of the company's energy efforts. Verizon has installed outside its Garden City building seven fuel cells, each of which is capable of generating 200 kilowatts of electrical power per hour. That's enough power to supply the energy needs of about 400 single- family households, or 57 homes per fuel cell. By using electricity from the fuel cells and reclaiming the heat and water they produce to help heat and cool the building, Verizon is eliminating some 11.1 million pounds of carbon dioxide that would have been emitted into the atmosphere by a similar-sized fossil-fuel based power plant during one year. "We are proud Verizon chose UTC Power to provide clean, reliable energy to their critical call-routing center," said Jan van Dokkum, president of UTC Power. "The PureCell(TM) 200's durability offers significant, long-term benefits to Verizon stakeholders, Long Island residents and the environment." The project is expected to save Verizon some $250,000 annually in commercial power costs. The new fuel cells will use natural gas piped in from local gas company Keyspan to obtain the hydrogen atoms for the chemical process. The natural gas is not burned. Instead, the hydrogen atoms are detached from the gas as it is fed into each of the seven cells, and then combined with oxygen atoms from the air to generate direct current electrical power. Heat and water is then vented from each cell, and direct current is converted to alternating current electricity for use in the building. The Verizon central switching office in the building provides local, long- distance and data services over about 35,000 phone lines in the area. In addition, the building houses some of the company's administrative offices and one of Verizon's regional Network Surveillance Operations Centers (NSOC). These centers monitor and control traffic on parts of the Verizon nationwide network. "Once again it's nice to see New York on the forefront of such an important technological advance," said state Sen. Michael Balboni. "As chairman of the Senate's Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Committee, I know the added level of reliability this fuel cell project brings to the already reliable network operated by Verizon. As we all know, the telecommunications infrastructure is a critical, vital part of the fabric of our society -- in good times and bad. My compliments to Verizon and all the partners involved here for taking such an important step forward." A Verizon predecessor company, Bell Atlantic, first began research on the fuel cell project in 1999, and Verizon announced plans to experiment with fuel cells in April, 2002. Since then, the company has been involved in various efforts related to research, engineering and then installation before starting to run the fuel cells and related equipment this summer. The other participants in the project are: * UTC Power * Keyspan * Long Island Power Authority * U.S. Department of Energy * Oak Ridge National Laboratory * New York State Energy Research and Development Authority * Pace Global Energy Services * H. O. Penn With more than $71 billion in annual revenues, Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) is one of the world's leading providers of communications services. Verizon has a diverse work force of more than 214,000 in four business units: Domestic Telecom provides customers based in 28 states with wireline and other telecommunications services, including broadband. Verizon Wireless owns and operates the nation's most reliable wireless network, serving 47.4 million voice and data customers across the United States. Information Services operates directory publishing businesses and provides electronic commerce services. International includes wireline and wireless operations and investments, primarily in the Americas and Europe. 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