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GE Fuel Cells Announces Partnership With Hudson Valley Community College

Lucas Willard

Officials gathered in Saratoga County Tuesday to tour a new General Electric Fuel Cell facility and to announce a new partnership between GE and a local community college.

GE Fuel Cells held a tour of its new facility at the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority’s Saratoga Technology + Energy Park in Malta.

Stakeholders and members of the media got a chance to take a sneak peak at the manufacturing process that will be used to create hybrid fuel cells.

Johanna Wellington, general manager of GE Fuel Cells, said the technology will be developed and brought to commercialization in a startup environment.

“We plant to bring this technology to market using a hybrid system approach," said Wellington. "So we are going to couple a fuel cell with a gas engine, and by doing that we are going to get really game-breaking efficiencies greater than 65 percent."

The process can be applied to help efficiently generate electricity independent from the regular electric grid, such as at an industrial site or a college campus. Wellington said the technology can also prove useful in a changing climate.

“So those of use who live here in upstate New York, we're all too familiar with superstorms, and this is great. This on-site powering solution can keep the lights on and serve your critical power needs if the grid happens to go down," said Wellington.

GE also announced a memorandum of understanding with Hudson Valley Community College to install and operate a 50-kilowatt class fuel cell power generation demonstration system at the HVCC’s Tec-SMART campus, located next door.

Students will be also be to receive hands-on training on the emerging technology.

HVCC President Andrew Matonak praised the partnerships with NYSERDA and General Electric.

“We’re really, really excited to have this opportunity to work with you, to learn with you, and to get this technology to market as quickly as possible," said Matonak.

New York Congressman Paul Tonko, a Democrat, previously served as the President and CEO of NYSERDA and helped establish the Saratoga Technology + Energy Park where the fuel cell facility is located.

“I was there as president and CEO when we negotiated the STEP park, and never dreaming that it would begin to blossom so quickly and so soundly, so that's a wonderful feeling," said Tonko. "As is the fact that we're thinking outside the barrel. It's time for us to green up our thinking, to go forward and address issues of climate change, to make certain that we reduce those emissions that can challenge our environment. GE is doing that in a sound partnership."

Tonko said the emerging technology is a tool that can relieve stress on the nation’s grid system.

NYSERDA President and CEO John Rhodes said currently in New York, 14 megawatts of power are generated by fuel cell technology, and that his organization remains committed to the technology.

“We’ve been working on the research and development side of fuel cells for years, and we will continue to do so, helping promote innovation, helping promote product development, and helping promote investment," said Rhodes.

Adjacent to the STEP park is the Luther Forest Technology campus, home to Global Foundries. With the launch of GE Fuel Cells, the Town of Malta is at the center of New York’s “Tech Valley.” Town supervisor Paul Sausville was on hand to present GE with a key to the town.

“It opens up that efficiency and hospitality that the Town of Malta and Saratoga County offer General Electric at this time," said Sausville.

GE Fuel Cells will employ around 30 full-time workers at the STEP site.

Lucas Willard is a reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011.
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