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Central Coast’s First Hydrogen Fueling Station Opens on La Cumbre Road

The station, at Conserv Fuel, is the only one along Highway 101 between Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay

Santa Barbara County Supervisor Salud Carbajal, center, cuts the ribbon marking Friday’s opening of a hydrogen fueling station at Conserv Fuel at 150 S. La Cumbre Road in Santa Barbara. The station is the first on the Central Coast.
Santa Barbara County Supervisor Salud Carbajal, center, cuts the ribbon marking Friday’s opening of a hydrogen fueling station at Conserv Fuel at 150 S. La Cumbre Road in Santa Barbara. The station is the first on the Central Coast. (Sam Goldman / Noozhawk photo)

Great news for Santa Barbara’s nascent community of hydrogen-fuel drivers: They no longer have to head over to the closest hydrogen fueling station in La Cañada Flintridge to fill up.

The first hydrogen fueling station on the Central Coast opened Friday morning at Conserv Fuel at 150 S. La Cumbre Road. The single pump is one of California’s 19 operational and soon-to-be-opened stations by hydrogen-fuel organization True Zero.

“The opening of this hydrogen station here in Santa Barbara definitely puts Santa Barbara County and the Central Coast on the hydrogen map,” Aeron Arlin Genet, district director and air pollution control officer with the Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District, told the crowd assembled in the Conserv Fuel lot.

“Behind us stands one of 17 public-retail fueling stations in the U.S., and it’s a big step to broadening the network in California and allowing these vehicles to stretch their legs and realize their full potential,” said Tim Brown, founder and chief operating officer of True Zero and FirstElement Fuel.

The fueling station was funded by grants from the California Energy Commission and financing from Toyota and Honda. One of the primary goals of the stations, the company said, is to allow drivers to travel throughout California without having to worry about refueling.

“You can pull up to the station now — three to five minutes — and you’re off on your way with 300 miles of range,” said Tyson Eckerle, the deputy director of zero-emission vehicle infrastructure in the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development.

Representatives from Toyota and Honda, county Supervisors Salud Carbajal and Peter Adam, and Community Environmental Council Executive Director Sigrid Wright all expressed their excitement for the station’s opening and agreed it was a big step in the right direction for the environment and zero-emissions industry. Santa Barbara Fire Department Chief Pat McElroy gave the station and hydrogen vehicles a big thumbs-up in terms of safety.

“We believe hydrogen fuel is the best option, the best chance of meeting our environmental and energy-security goals,” Brown said.

After the formal ribbon-cuttings, attendees were allowed to test drive the exhibited Honda Clarity and Toyota Mirai, which aptly translates to “future” in Japanese.

Brown said the cars hold roughly four kilograms of hydrogen fuel and cost about $60 to fill up. Hydrogen has been produced industrially for about a century, he said, primarily for refining gas, making the portion used for fueling vehicles “a drop in the bucket” compared to current overall production.

As hydrogen production shifts its focus from refining gas to fueling the cars on exhibit, he said, the cost to fill up will decrease.

The station is the only one along Highway 101 between Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay.

Noozhawk staff writer Sam Goldman can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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