The Douglas County PUD is making progress in the construction of its future hydrogen plant. 

PUD commissioners have approved the purchase of a second 5-Mega Watt electrolyzer, which is the machinery that produces hydrogen through a chemical process. 

Douglas PUD spokesperson Meaghan Vibbert says hydrogen production leaves a carbon-free footprint from start to finish. 

"So, we'll use green renewable power, whether that be Wells (Dam) power from our hydro project or other renewables, to make this hydrogen," said Vibbert. "And then when people burn it in their vehicle or other processes, the exhaust is just be water and vapor." 

The PUD purchased it's first electrolyzer for $9.5 million. The price of the second unit is not known because of changing market conditions. 

The hydrogen plant is a $25 million project that's being built behind the Shell station in the Baker Flats area north of East Wenatchee. 

The PUD has a contract with IMCO General Construction to build the hydrogen plant, which will also have a retail fueling station for the public.  

Vibbert says site preparation, underground utilities and storage tank installation are all complete. 

“We have the first electrolyzer in our hands, but it has not been installed yet,” Vibbert said. "That building needs to be constructed. Then all the piping and installation of the equipment will happen.”  

The hydrogen plant will have the capacity to accommodate up to 80MW of green hydrogen, enough to fill-up 6,400 hydrogen powered cars every day.  

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

In addition, the PUD is using money from the state and Centralia Coal Transition Grants to purchase $2.9 million in hydrogen fueling equipment for another retail fueling station in East Wenatchee. 

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 a 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. 

It’s on schedule to be up and running by June of 2024. 

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