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University Advancement

Contact: Carmen Ramos Chandler
(818) 677-2130
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Public Relations and Strategic Communications


CSUN to Celebrate Launch of Fuel Cell Power Plant with Dedication

(NORTHRIDGE, Calif., Feb. 5, 2007) — Elected officials and clean energy enthusiasts from across the region are expected to join Cal State Northridge President Jolene Koester on Friday, Feb. 23, for the dedication of a 1 megawatt fuel cell power plant at Northridge—the single largest fuel cell power plant at any university in the world.

The power plant will not only provide environmentally friendly power to the campus, but also ensure that the university can sustain continued growth and improve programs while remaining one of the most energy-efficient institutions in the state.

Len Pettis, chief of Plant, Energy and Utilities for the California State University system, said CSU officials were proud of the work Cal State Northridge has done over the years to become one of the top green energy campuses in higher education.

"Green power integration is a major part of CSU’s overall energy and sustainability policy, and is a reflection of our commitment to reduce the impact of global warming, to help achieve our energy independence goal, and to develop diversity in our energy supply," Pettis said. "We congratulate Northridge President Jolene Koester and the project’s utility partners for making this project possible."

Tom Brown, executive director of Northridge’s Physical Plant Management, called the addition of the power plant a "win" for the campus and the community.

"Not only does it provide learning opportunities for our students, but it also lessens the university’s impact on the community," Brown said. "By incorporating the fuel cell plant into campus operations, we are reducing the university’s CO2 emissions into the environment by 60 million pounds during its lifetime."

The dedication and a ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place at 9 a.m. on Matador Walk in front of the plant on the east side of the campus, just south of the Sol Center off Zelzah Street.

The university purchased the high-efficiency Direct FuelCell® (DFC®) power plant from FuelCell Energy, Inc. (NasdaqNM:FCEL), a leading manufacturer of ultra-clean and efficient electrical power generation plants based in Connecticut. Southern California Gas Company (The Gas Company) committed to providing up to $2.25 million in incentive funding to Northridge to support the installation of the plant. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) committed an additional $500,000.

The plant will generate base load electricity for the university’s facilities and surplus heat for buildings, showers and food service hot water, and for heating the University Student Union’s swimming pool.

College of Engineering and Computer Science faculty and students are actively studying the energy production and overall efficiency of this unique energy plant.

The power plant also provides a rare opportunity for students in the College of Science and Mathematics to study the carbon dioxide enrichment potential on plant life provided by the power plant to the university’s greenhouse. University officials are routing carbon dioxide exhaust from the plant’s heat exchanger into an adjacent miniature sub-tropical rainforest developed specifically to be sustained by the fuel cell plant’s operation.

Cal State Northridge has long been considered a leader in energy conservation among universities across the country. It was hailed in 2000 by the Clean Air Coalition for its use of alternative energy.

In 2001, the campus installed six microturbines through a partnership with the South Coast Air Quality District and LADWP as a way to save energy and reduce its reliance on the state’s fragile electrical grid.

The university, with support of LADWP and The Gas Company (Sempra Utilities), also has installed nearly 6,000 solar panels totaling nearly 700,000 watts of power on the campus as a way of providing power while saving energy and reducing costs.

According to 2006 data, CSUN’s plant is the seventh DFC plant of any capacity installed at a university and is one of only about a dozen of its size and capacity anywhere in the world.

FuelCell Energy said institutions of higher education represent an excellent application of fuel cells’ 24/7 electrical generation—powering academic facilities during the day and providing critical base load needs at night. DFC power plants address significant energy issues in California—where power consumers face high energy costs, strict air quality standards and greenhouse gas reduction goals. The high efficiency of DFC power plants not reduced carbon dioxide, but results in less fuel needed per kilowatt hour of electricity and lower operating costs.  In addition, DFC power plants provide greater energy reliability and energy security since they are located directly at customer sites, like CSUN.

California State University, Northridge has 34,500 full- and part-time students and offers 62 bachelor’s and 50 master’s degrees as well as 28 teaching credential programs. Founded in 1958, CSUN is among the largest single-campus universities in the nation and the only four-year public university in the San Fernando Valley. The university serves as the intellectual, economic and cultural heart of the Valley and beyond.

California State University, Northridge at 18111 Nordhoff Street, Northridge, CA 91330 / Phone: 818-677-1200 / © 2006 CSU Northridge