Captain Rob Huss
Government and Media Relations
(360) 596-4010 – office
(360) 596-4015 – fax

*** For Immediate Release***

Date: March 25, 2015
Contact: Bob Schwent, Electronic Services Division Commander
Phone: (360) 534-0601
Twitter: @wastatepatrol

Environmentally Friendly Law Enforcement?
WSP Using Hydrogen Fuel Cells At Radio Sites

"Environmentally friendly" usually isn't the first thing that comes to mind when you think of law enforcement. The Washington State Patrol is changing that.

WSP's Electronic Services Division has replaced traditional lead-acid batteries with hydrogen fuel cells at 15 of the agency's network radio towers across the state. With initially the same startup cost as lead-acid batteries, fuel cells provide WSP with all the same benefits while helping to preserve the environment.

"The transition to the fuel cells was low risk, it worked well and we plan to continue working towards the transition to alternative energy sources," said Bob Schwent, Electronic Services Division Commander.

Communication is key for troopers responding to emergencies across the state. In the event of a power outage diesel generators provide mountaintop radio sites with the electricity they need to stay online. However, these generators take a few moments to start following during an outage. The time lapse between the outage and the generator powering up could be critical.

Traditionally, large battery stacks were activated to power the radio towers until the generators could start up. The batteries provide sufficient amounts of electricity to enable a seamless transition from an electrical power source to the generator but also offered their own set of environmental concerns.

The batteries need to be replaced and disposed of every five to seven years, even if the power never goes out. That creates hazardous waste and unnecessary costs for WSP. Providing the same 48 volts of electricity, hydrogen fuel cells don't routinely need to be replaced and the only byproduct is water.

Additionally, the fuel cells take up a fraction of the space, allowing for a more efficient use of space, and require little to no maintenance.

"The fuel cells are very low maintenance, green and low cost," said Schwent.

WSP hopes to begin using alternative energy sources at other communication sites in the near future.