The California desert resort town of Palm Springs has officially gone on record as vying for a leadership position in developing America's hydrogen highway system. At a press conference that included Mayor Steve Pougnet, and a number of other interested parties from the clean energy and automotive sectors, Pougnet supported his case with help from Fred Noble, the president of Wintec Energy. Wintec operates many of the wind generators that straddle I-10 that leads into the city and has agreed to donate land for the proposed hydrogen plant as well as the electricity to run it. From 1999 to 2004, Wintec, itself, produced hydrogen on the site until the Department of Energy took back its electrolyzer unit, the device that actually creates hydrogen from water. Noble indicated that replacing the electrolyzer and constructing the fueling station would require about a $1 million in new investment. To underscore its support for this type of project, BMW displayed one of its dual-fuel Hydrogen 7 Sedans at the gathering and spokesman Jim Ryan noted that its absence from the showroom is primarily because of a lack of suitable infrastructure and fueling stations.
Pougnet sees his city as having all of the basic tools necessary to turn the Hydrogen Capital dream into a reality -- including a ready supply of clean solar energy to supplement the abundant wind power. Equally important, he and other officials there see this as an opportunity to create numerous green-related jobs as part of the process. Palm Springs is currently involved in a number of other eco-related endeavors and is finalizing a comprehensive master plan for sustainability that will be presented to the city council in April.