North Carolina Regulators Approve Apple's Plans for 4.8-Megawatt Fuel Cell Facility at Maiden Data Center
The North Carolina Utilities Commission today officially approved (PDF) Apple's proposal to construct a 4.8-megawatt fuel cell electric generating facility near its data center in Maiden, North Carolina. The Commission previously approved a plan by Apple to build the first of two 20 megawatt solar farms around its data center.
The Public Staff presented this matter to the Commission at its Regular Staff Conference on May 21, 2012. The Public Staff recommended that the Commission approve the application and issue a certificate of public convenience and necessity.
After careful consideration, the Commission finds good cause to approve the application and issue the attached certificate of public convenience and necessity for the proposed 4.8-MW AC fuel cell electric generating facility located at 5977 Startown Road, Maiden, Catawba County, North Carolina.
Previous filings (PDF) with federal regulators have indicated that Apple plans to have the fuel cell facility installed by July 16, with operation to begin by July 30.
Apple is acquiring the fuel cell boxes from Bloom Energy, based in Sunnyvale, California, near Apple's Cupertino headquarters where Apple already has some Bloom boxes installed. It appears that the fuel cell boxes will be powered by standard natural gas from the grid, while Apple will be purchasing environmentally-friendly biogas from a local provider which will be inserted into the grid at a 1:1 ratio. This will keep the system as "green" as possible.
Apple signaled its intentions to build a data center at the site last October, moving to clear and grade the land as it sought approval for the project. The company publicly unveiled its plans back in February, noting that the facility will be the largest user-owned fuel cell installation in the United States not owned by a utility company.