Green power plant manufacturer FuelCell Energy has sold of a 1.4 MW ‘Direct FuelCell’ (DFC) power plant to California’s Sonoma County to supply 100% of the baseload electricity needed to operate a county jail and county office buildings in Santa Rosa.

The DFC1500 power plant will generate 1.4 MW of ultra-clean electricity, and its by-product heat will be recovered and used to replace approximately half the natural gas the County currently purchases to make hot water for space heating, cleaning, and cooking. Overall, the County of Sonoma expects significant energy cost savings.

The state of California is one of the country’s leading environmental advocates with over 75 different laws and incentive programs to further the use of clean energy and reduce greenhouse gas production. Additionally, the California Air Resources Board’s CARB07 strictly regulates distributed generation power plants, specifying limits for nitrous oxides, carbon monoxide and volatile organic compounds. FuelCell Energy says that DFC fuel cells meet all of these limits.

Sonoma County considered numerous options before deciding that the fuel cell unit was the best solution for its needs. The fuel cell installation is a major component of the $22 million Comprehensive Energy Project to make Sonoma County buildings energy efficient, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and meet the reduction targets established in the County’s Climate Protection Action Plan.

Sonoma County’s purchase of the DFC unit, through its site contractor AirCon Energy, was partially funded with a $3 million grant under California’s Self-Generation Incentive Program administered by Pacific Gas and Electric. The fuel cell power plant is scheduled to be in operation in spring of 2010.