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San Francisco Bay Area community news

“Hydrogen highway” gets on the road

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Beth Winegarner
Daily News Staff Writer
September 28, 2005

Pacific Gas & Electric will break ground this morning in San Carlos on its first gas pump for hydrogen-powered vehicles, the first stop in a proposed “hydrogen highway” on the Peninsula.

The PG&E station on Industrial Way was a natural choice for a alternative-fuel pump, according to Anthony Estrada, PG&E’s senior program manager for clean air transportation. It already pumps natural gas for use in vehicles.

“Our forecast is to have the station up and running by March of next year, but we have some fine-tuning to do,” Estrada said. “These are expensive cars, so we need to make sure they get high-quality fuel.”

The fuel would first be available to PG&E’s own fleet of hydrogen-powered cars and to the company’s partners, the California Fuel Cell Partnership and Ztek, a fuel cell manufacturer, both of which own such cars. But it will be some time before the pump would be available to the public, and by then, Estrada expects that commercial fuel companies will have also be selling hydrogen.

“We don’t want to undermine third parties that want to build stations and make a profit,” he said. “We’re not in the business of selling hydrogen.”

Officials in the City/County Association of Governments envision the site as part of a series of fuel stations stretching down the Peninsula, according to C/CAG’s executive director, Richard Napier. Other stations will be installed in Menlo Park and at San Francisco International Airport in the next two years.

By the time the PG&E pump is up and running, another at Menlo Park’s corporation yard should also be installed, Napier said. A third, at SFO, is also in the planning stages.

“What we have in mind is equally spaced pumps that fill in the highway for San Mateo County,” he said. “These pumps would be provided from San Francisco to northern Santa Clara County.”

Although C/CAG is not developing stations directly, it has worked with other agencies to locate grants and donations for them. A hydrogen fuel station can cost between $500,000 and $1 million, although the Menlo Park station will cost less because some of the equipment is being donated, Napier said.

San Carlos will also play host Saturday to a portion of the California Fuel Cell Partnership’s three-day “Fueling the Future” parade. At 8:30 a.m., a phalanx of alternative-fuel vehicles, fresh from stops in Sacramento, Berkeley and San Jose, will be on display at the corner of San Carlos Avenue and Holly Streets.

This article originally appeared in the San Mateo Daily News.

Written by Beth Winegarner

September 28, 2005 at 8:56 PM

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