Board of Education approves energy-generating fuel cells for Uni and Woodbridge


In a move that aligns with the district’s energy efficiency goals, the IUSD Board of Education on Tuesday unanimously approved a resolution to partner with ClearEdge Power to design, construct, install and maintain a dozen fuel cells that will produce clean electricity and help heat swimming pools at Woodbridge and University high schools.

Math and Science Coordinator Mark Sontag, who oversees many of IUSD’s sustainability initiatives, noted that fuel cell systems produce far fewer harmful emissions than conventional heat and power sources, and they’re expected to save the district about $567,698 per school over 20 years.

Under the terms of the agreement, which followed a year of research and evaluation, IUSD will purchase six fuel cells for Woodbridge and six for Uni. ClearEdge will design, construct and install the cells, and the company will also maintain them for five years. IUSD can use an available credit from the California Public Utilities Commission’s Self-Generation Incentive Program to help cover the purchasing cost of $329,000.

Sontag said each of the fuel cells – pictured above, they’re about the size of small refrigerators – will use 0.5 therms of natural gas per hour to generate approximately 40,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year. Heat, produced as a byproduct during the conversion process, will then be used to warm the existing pool at Uni, as well as the pool that’s now under construction at Woodbridge, offsetting additional costs.

(Update: To read a recap of the entire Board of Education meeting, click here.)