A Douglas County PUD hydrogen plant should be up and running in about a year.

The plant will generate hydrogen that the utility plans to sell from a fueling station for hydrogen powered cars and for other industrial uses.

It'll also serve to absorb much of the stress that leads to wear and tear at its river dam known as the Wells Hydroelectric Project.

Meaghan Vibbert with the PUD says the hydrogen plant will take in constant signals that now go to big mechanical equipment at the dam that has to instantly adjust to fluctuations in the regional power grid.

"The idea is to increase our efficiencies and decrease our maintenance necessary on those big units by doing all of the fluctuations there at the hydrogen plant rather than the hydroelectric project," said Vibbert.

The hydrogen plant is a $25 million project.

It's slightly behind schedule because of design changes in April for the building that'll house the hydrogen machine, which is known as an electrolyzer.

The PUD purchased a 5-megawatt electrolyzer from Hydrogenics Corp. for about $9.5 million. It hasn't been delivered yet, but some equipment associated with it has arrived.

The utility has received compressors, fueling stanchions and fueling panels for the facility, but Vibbert says they'll request the manufacturers of the electrolyzer and purification equipment to delay delivery until the production facility is built.

The hydrogen plant can produce 2 tons of hydrogen per day at full capacity. It's being built at a site in Baker Flats.

The PUD is using money from the state and Centralia Coal Transition Grants to purchase $2.9 million hydrogen fueling equipment from OneH2, Inc. for the East Wenatchee fueling station.

The station will be located on the PUD's East Wenatchee campus and will have a new Level 3 electric vehicle charging station in addition to the hydrogen fueling operation for cars.

Vibbert says the utility is optimistic about the hydrogen plant's future and are billing the effort as a pilot project.

She noted the plant in Baker Flats is being built with the capacity to expand if more electrolyzers are desired.

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