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Wegmans Receives $1M Grant for Fuel Cell-Powered Equipment

wegmansWegmans Food Markets Inc. expects to save money and cut carbon emissions after improvements to equipment at its distribution center.

The food retailer has received a $1 million grant from the Pennsylvania Energy Development Authority (PEDA) to help offset the cost of implementing hydrogen fuel cell-powered material handling equipment at its Retail Service Center in Pottsville, Pennsylvania.

The supermarket estimates that by converting the lead-acid-battery powered pallet jacks and reach trucks in just the produce area of its facility to hydrogen fuel cells, it will cut carbon emissions that are equivalent to removing 134 cars off the road per year, according to the Morning Call.

During the three-phase project, the company plans to convert its entire lift truck fleet at the Pottsville facility to hydrogen fuel cells, which the company says will help it reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase productivity and lower operating costs. The first phase will include the installation of an on-site hydrogen infrastructure (outdoor hydrogen storage tank and indoor fueling dispensers), as well as the equipment conversion in the produce facility. This phase is expected to be operational in November 2009.

During the first phase, Wegmans will purchase 50 Crown pallet trucks and 9 Crown stand-up forklifts from Lift Inc., Lancaster Pennsylvania. Lift Inc. will also supply the Plug Power’s GenDrive fuel-cell solution to power its fleet.

Wegmans plans to expand its use of hydrogen fuel-cell technology at the facility over the next three years. When the project is complete, up to 150 pieces of equipment will be powered by hydrogen fuel cells. The entire project is expected to offset 4,064,445 kWh of energy over its lifetime.

Wegmans recently converted older light fixtures with more efficient ones at its Rochester-area facilities to save enough energy to power 800 homes.

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