PUD may partner with TransGo on zero-carbon hydrogen bus fleet

Utility applies for grant for hydrogen fueling station and hydrogen fuel cell

OKANOGAN – Okanogan County PUD has applied for a grant to possibly install a hydrogen fueling station and hydrogen fuel cell in the county, in partnership with TranGo.

Brent Timm, general manager for TranGo, said that his agency is pursuing a feasibility study for deploying a zero-carbon bus fleet, in accordance with state requirements. Hydrogen fuel cells are likely a better option for their buses than lithium electric batteries.

The PUD also has state requirements through the Clean Energy Transformation Act, and more recently the cap-and-trade legislation passed in 2022, to receive energy from carbon-free power resources. TranGO and the PUD submitted a joint application through the Pacific Northwest Hydrogen Hub for Department of Energy funding to develop a hydrogen fueling station and a 100 KW fuel cell to generate electricity. This demonstration project will help both entities meet state mandates.

Douglas County PUD is in the process of building a hydrogen production facility and their proximity and the current working relationship with Okanogan County PUD has made the project competitive for federal funding. Although nothing is official yet, the grant could provide around half of the $6 million estimate for the project, with other grant funding available for the other half. Most likely, the funding would be available in 2024-2025.

Okanogan County PUD is still studying the details and feasibility of the project, but if it proved effective, it could be expanded to meet both transportation needs and electricity production requirements in other parts of the county.

In other business at their Oct. 24 meeting, the board:

  • Approved a grant application to USDA Re-Connect to provide fiber-to-the-premises in much of rural north Okanogan County for more than $31 million. The 100 percent grant application is due Nov. 2. Although Okanogan PUD has been rejected for four other broadband grant applications, staff continue to pursue funding opportunities to bring fiber services to cost-prohibitive areas.
  • Continued discussion regarding the 2023 proposed budget, with the latest draft including four new staff positions to respond to customer and district needs. An updated wage and salary scheduled was also presented. The board will likely vote on the budget at their Nov. 14 meeting. The draft budget and supporting documents are available on the PUD website, www.okanoganpud.org.