CBS Studios seeks energy independence with UTC fuel cells

The media company will use the technology at two major production facilities in southern California.

CBS Studios plans to install six UTC Power stationary fuel cells like the one above at two production sites in California. The cells will handle a respectable majority of the studios' power and climate control needs (specifics in a moment), plus they will also give the facilities some degree of energy independence (in case there is a grid outage, they will still have some power).

CBS is installing the PureCell systems at the CBS Studio Center, a production facility with 18 sound stages and offices in Studio City, Calif.; and at the CBS Television City in Los Angeles, which has eight sound stages and office space. Together, the cells will have a capacity of 2.4 megawatts, which will handle 40 percent and 60 percent of the electricity needs at the studios, respectively.

Thermal energy from the cells will handle space heating, some cooling and the hot water at the Television City site.

There are three cells being installed at each facility, expected to go into production at the end of 2012. Four of the systems will be independent of the electric grid, so they will remain operational (in theory) even if there is an outage in the local community.

"With the installation of these PureCell systems, we will substantially increase our energy security by being able to continue operations in the event a grid outage and, equally important, the installation is projected to reduce our impact on the environment and provide significant energy cost savings for our business," said Michael Klausman, president of CBS Studio Center and Senior Vice President of Operations for CBS Television City.

(A disclosure: SmartPlanet is published by CBS Interactive, which obviously has the same parent company as CBS Studios. I am not an employee of either company, though I clearly write for SmartPlanet. They didn't assign this piece.)

CBS is anticipating a reduction of energy consumption from the cells, of course, but it also is counting on a serious decrease in the amount of water needed to product its energy. The company figures that the cells will help save up to 2.8 million gallons of water annually, which is a big consideration if you happen to be operating in the state of California.

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