EAST WENATCHEE – Development of the Douglas County Public Utility District’s hydrogen electrolyzer project is continuing with approval of an agreement for engineering services.
PUD commissioners approved the agreement with Hatch Associates Consults Inc. during their June 22 meeting.
Hatch will provide professional engineering services for safety and design of the project. This agreement’s maximum cost is $1 million. The agreement concludes June 30, 2022.
In April, the PUD decided to spend more than $9.4 million for equipment for the hydrogen production project.
The utility wants to produce, distribute and sell renewable hydrogen. Legislation authorizing PUDs to do so was approved during the 2019 legislative session and signed April 17 by Gov. Jay Inslee.
Douglas County PUD had asked Sen. Brad Hawkins, R-East Wenatchee, to sponsor the legislation.
At times, there is an oversupply of electricity on the market, said the PUD. When the sun is shining, the wind is blowing and the mountain snowpack is melting, power prices are low or even negative. Hydroelectric operators are forced to generate electricity rather than spill water, which adds total dissolved gas to the river and negatively impacts fish.
The ability to use that excess electricity to produce renewable hydrogen would be an efficient use of resources and an environmental benefit, said the PUD.
Traditionally, hydrogen is produced using natural gas and steam reforming. Douglas County PUD would use the electrolysis method, separating the hydrogen from oxygen using an electric current. Renewable hydrogen is produced as a renewable resource with no carbon associated with the production or consumption of the fuel.
PUD commissioners, during an April 13 meeting, awarded a contract to Hydrogenics Corp. to supply and deliver 5-megawatt hydrogen electrolyzer equipment for a maximum cost of a little more than $9.48 million.
They also authorized a request for qualifications for professional engineering services for safety and design of the hydrogen electrolyzer project. The services – to be performed by Hatch - are needed to ensure project conformance with the latest safety codes and standards in the relatively new industry, said PUD officials.
In other business June 22, the board:
-Approved a professional service agreement with the Colville Confederated Tribes for Wells Hydroelectric Project archaeological monitoring. This agreement will not exceed $102,957 and will conclude May 30, 2021.
-Set the next commission meeting for 1:30 p.m. July 13 at the district's East Wenatchee office. The office is closed to the public in response to the COVID-19 guidance. To comply with the state Open Public Meetings Act, a conference phone line number will be provided at the top of the draft agenda posted on the district’s website under “Latest News” the Friday before the meeting.