The Utilities Technology Council (UTC) represents the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) interests of electric, gas and water utilities, as well as natural gas pipelines, critical infrastructure organizations and other industry stakeholders globally. UTC Region 3, covering the southeast US, held its spring conference March 6-8 in Columbia, SC. There, Plug Power joined partner Solara Technical and customer Southern Linc to discuss and promote fuel cell success in the industry.
In the Expo area, Plug Power supported partner, Solara Technical in their booth. Solara Tech represents Plug Power in the southeast, providing valuable expertise in complete critical power solutions and the two also teamed up to be a show sponsor.
In the educational seminars, Plug Power’s Sales Director, Darin Painter, was joined by Southern Linc’s Radio Access Network Manager, Blake Thompson for a discussion about Southern Linc’s LTE network deployment to date of more than 350 hydrogen fuel cells providing backup power inside integrated power and communications cabinets. In total, Southern Linc anticipates installing more than 500 of these cabinets.
Darin discussed the types of sites most appropriate for successful fuel cell use.
Blake talked about Southern Linc’s experience of fuel cell adoption, including why they chose to utilize fuel cells in their network as well as lessons learned over the past few years while working with Plug Power.
Blake went on to discuss how 2018’s Hurricane Michael impacted Southern Linc’s network and the role Plug Power’s GenSure fuel cells played in the recovery efforts. In 2018, the Southeast was hit hard by Hurricane Michael, which caused massive network and utility disruption to the entire region.
In all, 49 of the installed fuel cells were called into operation, about 14% of those in network at the time. These sites were spread across three states and multiple operations regions, with outages ranging from 3 days to nearly 2 weeks. During this time, the fuel cells provided support for more than 2,400 hours of outage time. An understanding of the success points may prove useful for others considering fuel cell adoption for their networks.
The presentation was well-received by the full room of Region 3 attendees, who asked more questions of the two presenters than the allotted 15 minutes of Q&A allowed for.
It was a good week, and Plug Power looks forward to engaging with the utility telecom industry again soon at their national conference in June. Join us!