Douglas County PUD Commissioners Aaron J. Viebrock, Molly Simpson and Ronald E Skagen moved the first shovels of dirt at the soon to be built renewable hydrogen production facility near Baker Flats, East Wenatchee today.
The 5MW pilot project will provide flexibility to Douglas PUD operations at their Wells Hydroelectric Project. Generation requests can be sent to the hydrogen electrolyzer to reduce the mechanical adjustments necessary at the Wells Hydroelectric Project to balance the grid. This will reduce the maintenance necessary on the turbine units and associated equipment.
“Douglas PUD has always been an innovator in the utility industry. As the state looks toward low and zero emission technologies, our customer-owners want their local PUD to be prepared for the future,” said Douglas PUD General Manager Gary Ivory.
This project has been in the works for several years with the first hurdle cleared with the passage of SB 5588 in 2019 authorizing PUD’s to produce and sell renewable hydrogen sponsored by Senator Hawkins and a $250,000 planning grant sponsored by Representative Steele.
Hydrogen is created by a process that separates the hydrogen and oxygen molecules in water through electrolysis. The process is energy intensive with about 80% of the input costs being electricity.
Site excavation is starting this week with anticipated delivery of the electrolyzer in July. Connections of piping, electrical and water will follow with production of renewable hydrogen starting late this year.