NEW YORK, April 20 /PRNewswire/ -- The New York Power Authority (NYPA) added a novel touch of green to the Central Park landscape Tuesday when it dedicated a fuel cell power plant that will produce virtually pollution-free electricity while solving a major problem for the police station in the park. Joining NYPA Chairman and Chief Executive Officer C.D. "Rapp" Rappleyea in unveiling the 200-kilowatt (kw) unit -- painted "Central Park green" -- were Robert W. Gee, assistant secretary for fossil energy at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE); Police Commissioner Howard Safir; and other city, police and community officials. "This project will help the New York Power Authority meet two of Governor [George E.] Pataki's top priorities -- to protect the environment and cut the cost of government," Rappleyea said during ceremonies at the police station on the road that crosses the park at 86th Street. The fuel cell will meet the electricity needs of the 128-year-old police station, which at times hasn't had enough power to run all of the computers, copiers and office fixtures essential to police work. It will permit installation of sophisticated electronic booking equipment, and will end the need to shut off the air conditioning for lack of power on some hot summer days. Rappleyea noted that the "green machine" -- dedicated two days before Earth Day -- will cut emissions of gases tied to global warming, acid rain and other environmental threats and will avoid the $1.2 million cost of providing an upgraded power line to the police station. Commissioner Safir said, "The expenses associated with running additional power through Central Park into a precinct built in 1871 would have been prohibitive if not for NYPA's assistance. The solution, an environmentally clean fuel cell power plant, will not only allow the precinct to conduct its normal business, but will take us well into the next century without any foreseeable problems." Assistant Secretary Gee said, "The installation of this fuel cell, in this setting, reflects the commitment of the New York Power Authority and the city to protecting the quality of our environment -- not only for those who enjoy the park today, but for future generations. It also reflects their commitment to be modern-day pioneers -- to be among the first in this nation to adopt an emerging technology." In addition to serving the police station -- which was originally the Central Park Stable -- the fuel cell will supply electricity for an adjacent charging facility to power quiet, non-polluting electric vehicles to be used by police patrols. NYPA has obtained a three-wheeled electric vehicle for the precinct, with another to come, and is working with the Police Department and the Central Park Conservancy to help arrange and fund the leasing of four electric patrol cars. "The fuel cell and the electric vehicle charging provide a double benefit for the environment -- emission-free vehicles running on clean power," Rappleyea said. "By any standards, this project's environmental credentials are impeccable." Long-term plans also call for the fuel cell, installed in the police station's parking lot, to provide heat for the building. The 10-foot-high fuel cell, manufactured by ONSI Corp. of South Windsor, Conn., a subsidiary of United Technologies, is powered by natural gas and produces electricity through a chemical reaction, rather than combustion. The natural gas is processed to form hydrogen, which combines with oxygen in the air to produce electricity, heat and water. Not only are emissions negligible, but noise levels are about the same as from a window air conditioner. ONSI President Robert Suttmiller said, "The fuel cell operating at 200 kw for 8,400 hours per year will reduce carbon dioxide by 1,100 tons, and other air pollutants by 40,000 pounds, compared with electricity generated from average combustion-based processes in the U. S." NYPA installed the fuel cell as part of its long-term energy supply agreement with the city. Rappleyea noted that low-cost NYPA electricity powers the city's public buildings, schools, street lights and subway and commuter trains, with annual savings to taxpayers and train riders of more than $250 million. In addition, he said, NYPA power supplied under Governor Pataki's Power for Jobs program and other initiatives helps to protect more than 135,000 jobs at businesses and non-profit institutions throughout the city. Other New York Power Authority projects in the city range from a High Efficiency Lighting Program (HELP) that will save taxpayers $25 million a year to implementation of the governor's program to replace coal-burning furnaces in public schools. NYPA is preparing to install another fuel cell at North Central Bronx Hospital. It currently operates a 200-kw fuel cell at the Westchester County Wastewater Treatment Plant in Yonkers -- the first in the Western Hemisphere to run on anaerobic digester gas produced during sewage treatment. Each of these projects has received a DOE grant.
SOURCE New York Power Authority