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First hydrogen fuel station in Contra Costa County opens in San Ramon

Even a facility that represents the cutting edge of clean transportation technology doesn’t get an easy pass from California regulators.

Stringent permitting requirements, plus some unforeseen physical issues involving power connections, delayed the opening of the Linde hydrogen cell fueling station by about six months. But proponents of this unassuming-looking facility on Norris Canyon Road just east of Interstate 680 — and of the greater cause of reduced dependence on fossil fuels — say it will be around for the long haul.

“We started developing this technology 20 years ago; at the same time we started work on the Prius” electric hybrid car, said Dawn Mercer, a national advanced-technology manager for Toyota Motors North America, a partner company behind the hydrogen cell fueling station. It is the Bay Area’s sixth station and California’s 29th. “This will only develop and expand.”

Mercer was one of perhaps 75 car and energy company officials and local and regional elected officials on hand Tuesday morning for a grand opening ceremony. They hailed the station as a key to encouraging a technology that has been hampered, in part, by a lack of fueling stations.

The market for fuel cell electric vehicles powered with hydrogen is new and still small. There are about 2,100 Toyota Mirais on the road in California; the Honda Clarity and Hyundai ix35 are also on the market.

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