On Monday, SoCalGas unveiled North America’s first Hydrogen micro-grid home at the Southern California Gas Company Energy Resource Center in Downey, CA.
On Monday, SoCalGas unveiled North America’s first Hydrogen micro-grid home at the Southern California Gas Company Energy Resource Center in Downey, CA. Credit: socalgas.com

Prince James Story |

On Dec.31, 1879, Thomas Edison stood in front of a crowd in Menlo Park, New Jersey, to display his new invention, the incandescent lightbulb. 

There is no question about the historical impact Edison’s invention had on the world years ago and how people from all over the country traveled to New Jersey for Edison’s revolutionary reveal. 

One hundred forty years later, another revolutionary event occurred with the unveiling of North America’s first Hydrogen micro-grid home, H2, at the Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas) Energy Resource Center in Downey, California. 

It is the first fully integrated demonstration project with solar panels, a battery and an electrolyser to convert solar energy into hydrogen, as well as a fuel cell to supply electricity to the home.

Among the dignitaries in attendance at the event was former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who now serves as Infrastructure Advisor for the State of California.

SoCalGas CEO Scott Drury and California Lt. Governor Eleni Kounalakis flip the light switch to SoCalGas’s new Hydrogen powered micro-grid and home.

The home, at 2,000 square feet, was built in 20 weeks. The construction included six modules that were built off-site, brought over, and put together in six hours, creating the house. 

The micro-grid draws its power from solar panels and converts excess energy into renewable hydrogen energy.

SoCalGas explained that the micro-grid could deliver clean and renewable energy to a neighborhood composed of an estimated 100 homes and industrial buildings. 

“California is home to 40 million people. Yes, California is also an idea. It is a vision of the future. It is a gateway to progress,” Southern California Gas Co. President Marayam Brown said. 

Southern California Gas Co. President Marayam Brown called California “a gateway to progress”. (socalgas.com).

“It is very much the case that innovation and technology for the last half-century has flowed in this country from west to east. That is because of the incredible work of many of the people in this room.”

During the event, James Slevin, the National President of Utility Workers For America (UWUA), spoke about his organization’s excitement for the future. 

“It started with a vision and didn’t end with the vision. It ended with the practice of putting it out there,” Slevin said.  “What you have here today, you don’t see it across this country. You don’t see people talking about cleaning the environment.  I have to applaud the team here at So Cal Gas for that.”

Clean Energy Sources

He addressed those concerned about the transition to clean energy sources and the workers worried about their jobs being taken away. 

He spoke about the importance of “making sure workers are included, communities are included, as the state transitions to a cleaner environment” and explained how accomplishing that is an important part of the effort when it comes to reducing emissions.  “What you have here is growth in California. Projects like this will expand and continue to grow and continue to bring economic growth as it reduces emissions,” Slevin said.

“We’re excited on the UWUA front,” said James Slevin, National President of Utility Workers For America (UWUA). He was speaking about his organization’s enthusiasm for the future of clean energy at the unveiling of North America’s first Hydrogen micro-grid home at the Southern California Gas Company Energy Resource Center in Downey, (Photo: Prince James Story).

Blanca Pacheco, Assemblymember for the 64th District, announced that she would be introducing new legislation, Assembly Bill 324 that will jumpstart production to decarbonize the existing natural gas system and lower the cost of the fuel for a potential dedicated hydrogen system in the future.

Carbon Neutrality

“The goal is to jumpstart production to decarbonize the existing natural gas system and lower the cost of the fuel for a potential dedicated hydrogen system in the future,” said California Assemblymember (64th District) Blanca Pacheco. (pachecoforassembly.com).

“Diversifying the utilities’ renewable procurement portfolios to include hydrogen reduces risks, improves California’s chances of reaching its ambitious carbon neutrality goals, increases competition between decarbonization pathways, and provides Californians access to a decarbonization pathway that may provide lower long-term costs,” Pacheco said.

According to SoCalGas, hydrogen homes provide reliability for families and businesses. 

Although clean energy will reduce the number of union jobs, it will also help create new jobs for the future. 

SoCalGas is leading the charge in relation to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s plan for California to reach carbon neutrality by 2045.

Prince James Story

Report for America Corps member and Black Voice News Climate and Environmental Justice reporter, Prince James Story was raised in Atlanta, Georgia. He is an intersectional journalist with experience covering news and sports across numerous mediums. Story aims to inform the public of social inequities and discriminatory practices while amplifying the voices of those in the communities harmed. Story earned his master’s degree in Sports Journalism from Arizona State University-Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. He earned a B.A. in Mass Communication and a B.A. in African American studies from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Contact Prince James with tips, comments, or concerns at Princejames@blackvoicenews.com or via Twitter @PrinceJStory.