In operation since 2005, the facility uses seven fuel cells that help reduce dependence on commercial electric power and provide another layer of network reliability in the event of natural disasters, power outages and periods of peak commercial power demands.
"Verizon's Garden City fuel cell project is a good example of the benefits of using combined heat and power and onsite power generation to increase electric reliability and security of critical power loads," said Patricia Hoffman, U.S. principal deputy assistant secretary for electricity delivery and energy reliability. "These technologies are key to the administration's overarching goal to increase efficiency in the grid and reduce greenhouse gas emissions."
Each of the seven fuel cells is capable of generating 200 kilowatts of electrical power per hour, enough to supply the energy needs of about 400 single-family households.
Verizon's Garden City project is unique because the existing commercial power grid, the new fuel cells and existing Verizon backup power work together to meet the facility's operational needs. Natural gas is piped in from local gas company Keyspan to obtain the hydrogen atoms for the chemical process. The natural gas is not burned. Instead, the hydrogen atoms are detached from the gas as it is fed into each of the seven cells, and then combined with oxygen atoms from the air to generate direct current electrical power.
This system provides as much as 80 percent of the facility's power load when all seven fuel cells are activated.
Heat and water are then removed from each cell, and direct current is converted to alternating current electricity for use in the building. Waste heat created by the fuel cells generates 75 percent of the energy required to heat the facility and one-third required for cooling.
By using fuel cells at this site, Verizon is eliminating some 11.1 million pounds of carbon dioxide a year that would have been emitted into the atmosphere by a similar-sized fossil-fuel-based power plant.
"Our customers depend on our advanced broadband and wireless networks, so reliability and efficiency are of paramount importance to us, said Daniel Mead, president of Verizon Services Corp., which oversees many of Verizon's green initiatives.
Mead, who also serves as co-chair of Verizon's Corporate Responsibility Council, added, "We're continuously researching and testing new environmentally friendly ways to help us provide our customers with the highest quality communications services at home, on the go and at work. We're honored that our Garden City project, one of our many green initiatives, has earned an Energy Star award.