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VALLEY ROUNDUP | Chatsworth

Capstone Reveals New Headquarters

September 08, 2000|ANDREW BLANKSTEIN

Capstone Turbine Corp. showed off its new 100,000-square-foot microturbine production facility and worldwide headquarters Thursday in a debut that Mayor Richard Riordan said was symbolic of a "greener, cleaner" era in power generation.

The microturbines, which are the size of a beer keg and cost $25,000 apiece, can be used as stand-alone power generators or to generate electricity using waste gas from oil, natural gas or dump sites.

The microturbines are also used to increase reliably of existing power sources, as well as to power hybrid electrical vehicles.

"I didn't think I'd see this in my lifetime. A few years ago we in the industry had thought the big power plants and grid would carry the day indefinitely," said S. David Freeman, general manager of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. "In recent times, the old order sputtered and is making room for technologies like this to prosper."

The new facility will help Capstone produce more turbines. company officials said demand grew from 2 units in 1998 to 337 units already produced in the first six months of 2000.

Company officials said they had developed microturbines for 20- and 30-foot vehicles.

The turbines are currently in use in four Los Angeles Department of Transportation DASH buses, as well as in other cities nationwide.

Development of a higher-output microturbine for large city buses and 18-wheel trucks should be shipped early next year, according to company officials.

Riordan said he envisions the technology being used on buses, delivery vehicles and other trucks. "We're not going to put all our eggs in one basket," he said. "But we are going to buy enough to prove it [the technology] out.

Capstone, a publicly traded company, was founded in 1988 and began shipping its first commercial products in 1998.

Before the company moved to its Chatsworth headquarters six weeks ago, it was spread across six facilities located throughout the San Fernando Valley. Capstone presently employs 200 people in Chatsworth and at a second research and development site in Tarzana.

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