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Habitat Magazine Business of Management 2021

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ARCHIVE ARTICLE

Fuel Cells: A New Source of Clean Energy

A clean break. A new chapter in the greening of New York City is being written in an industrial swath of Staten Island, where Daroga Power, a clean-energy infrastructure developer, is installing 48 fuel cells that will send 12 megawatts of electricity to the Con Edison grid. That, in turn, will produce savings for the project’s members – a mix of co-ops and condos, large commercial enterprises and low- to moderate-income residents.

Powering up. “It’s the first project of its kind in New York City,” says David Matt, a co-founder of Daroga Power. Fuel cells use the chemical energy of a fuel – sometimes hydrogen, in this case natural gas – to cleanly produce electricity. The fuel cells in the Staten Island project were manufactured by California-based Bloom Energy. The project’s $103 million budget was financed from two sources: institutional and private capital raised by Daroga Power, and a $20 million loan from the New York Green Bank.

Free and easy. The Staten Island project is what’s known as community distributed generation, and consumers sign up by going to www.gocdg.com. “It’s free to sign up,” Matt says. “Every month on their Con Edison bill they’ll receive a credit, usually between 7% and 10% of the total amount due.” Members are signed up on a first-come, first-served basis.

Growth opportunity. Daroga Power is already operating two community solar projects in Brooklyn and is developing one of the city’s largest community solar electric-vehicle charging stations, in Queens. Another fuel cell project is in the works in the Bronx, with completion scheduled for next year. The company is slated to have 20.2 megawatts of generating capacity in the city by the end of 2021, and it has allocated up to half of its community distributed generation power to low- and moderate-income Con Edison customers, people who traditionally have limited access to clean energy.

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