To further the advancement of an environmentally responsible power source, an international energy company, public power utility, leading fuel-cell company, and major automotive company recently broke ground on a fuel-cell demonstration project that is the first of its kind in the United States.

Southern Company (NYSE: SO), Alabama Municipal Electric Authority (AMEA), FuelCell Energy (NASDAQ: FCEL), and Mercedes-Benz U.S. International, Inc. (MBUSI) recently joined forces to field test an environmentally responsible power-generation technology as part of the process to bring a clean energy option to the marketplace.

The Alabama Direct FuelCell Demonstration Project is intended to drive a growing interest in fuel-cell technology - as demand for cleaner, more efficient power generation increases.

The plant will use FuelCell Energy's Direct FuelCell stack in a unique design developed by MTU Friedrichshafen, a subsidiary of DaimlerChrysler and partner of FuelCell Energy.

The plant will convert pipeline natural gas to electricity at an efficiency of about 50%, compared with 33% for conventional generation. The plant will feed the Mercedes-Benz production facility power-distribution system. MTU conducted a 250kW commercial field trial at Bielefeld, Germany, to provide electricity to the grid, processing steam for the university, and heat for district heating.

The fuel-cell plant is expected to be fully operational by spring 2001. For more information, visit