Mercury News. Instead of expanding, California’s Hydrogen Highway fueling infrastructure is contracting. Three hydrogen stations have recently closed, including one in Richmond that served county buses. Each of the last three agencies that received state funding to build a fueling station decided not to pursue the project.
That means the state is now down to 23 stations amid concerns that the technology is not viable in the near future and that it might be many more years before consumers have any real access to the vehicles that are now used mostly by government agencies in demonstration projects.
PG&E’s decision to turn down $1.5 million in state funds to build a large-scale, retail hydrogen station in San Carlos is especially noteworthy. The site was supposed to serve as a hub for hundreds of Mercedes-Benz passenger vehicles that were going to be leased next year in Northern California—the first significant effort to make the vehicles available to the public. Instead, PG&E officials said they’ve shifted hydrogen to the back stage and now consider it a distant technology, with electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids moving to the front of the line.
“Things have changed,” said Jill Egbert, manager of PG&E’s Clean Air Transportation division. “We feel hydrogen is a long-term solution, but there is no one technology that will be the silver bullet to meet transportation needs. From a resource standpoint, we feel a more pressing need to see how electric vehicles will affect our grid.”