Pittsburgh Utility Experiments with NatGas Fuel Cells in Homes

An intriguing concept: What if you could generate your own electricity for your own home–without big, ugly solar panels plastered on your roof, or without an unsightly (and loud) wind mill stuck in your yard? What if all you need is a natural gas pipeline connected to your home. What’s that? You don’t want to contribute to man-made global warming by *burning* natural gas? No problem. This nifty little invention, called a fuel cell, uses natural gas in a *chemical* reaction to create electricity. These types of fuel cells have been around for a while, but what’s new is that they are now getting good enough to be commercially viable. Peoples Natural Gas, the largest natural gas distribution company in PA, providing natural gas service to approximately 700,000 customers in western PA, West Virginia, and Kentucky, has cut a deal with a Westmoreland County fuel-cell manufacturer to put 100 test systems in customer’s homes to create electricity at home. It’s an experiment. If all goes well, more will be deployed. Remember when cable companies first began offering internet access, then telephone access? Yeah, electric utilities and electric generators might want to look over their shoulder. They may get some serious competition! If natgas fuel cells ever take off for the residential market, demand for natural gas would be ginormous. Hence our interest. Is this technology anywhere near mainstream yet? No. But let’s keep a close eye on this potential new market for Marcellus/Utica gas. It may happen sooner than you think…

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