Aug. 28, 2006: The Chewonki Foundation, a Wiscasset organization, unveils what it bills as the first hydrogen fuel cell of its kind in Maine. The new system is installed to provide backup power and heat in the foundation’s education center building.

It took three years for the foundation to complete the $250,000 project in cooperation with the nonprofit Hydrogen Energy Center in Portland and the Maine Energy Investment Corp. The Maine Technology Institute help fund the effort with a grant.

At the fuel cell’s Wiscasset introduction, Gov. John Baldacci signs an executive order permitting the formation of the Maine Energy Fuel Cell Partnership. That group’s goal is to hasten development of commercial-grade hydrogen production, storage and distribution.

A hydrogen shed stands on the Chewonki grounds. In it, an electrolyzer unit, powered by rooftop solar panels, generates hydrogen by using electricity to split groundwater into hydrogen and oxygen. Compressed hydrogen is stored in eight high-pressure gas bottles.

If Chewonki should lose power in a storm, the hydrogen travels to the education center through an in-ground pipe. A fuel cell in the building combines hydrogen with oxygen to make electricity.

Chewonki, founded in 1915, teaches about the development of sustainable communities and stewardship of nature.

Presented by:

Joseph Owen is an author, retired newspaper editor and board member of the Kennebec Historical Society. Owen’s book, “This Day in Maine,” can be ordered at To get a signed copy use promo code signedbyjoe at checkout. Joe can be contacted at: [email protected]


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