April 17--Danbury-based FuelCell Energy, which makes power generation equipment, has submitted plans for seven generation units in the latest request for renewable proposals being considered by state energy officials.
The projects FuelCell Energy has proposed would produce a combined total of 85.1 megawatts, said Thomas Gelston, vice president for investor relations at the company. Fuel cell generation facilities are being proposed for Ansonia, Bristol, Derby, Hartford, New Milford, Willimantic and Torrington, where the company has a factory.
The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is expected to announce in June its selection from submitted renewable energy proposals . DEEP officials received a total of 27 bids earlier this spring: Three are for offshore wind farms, 20 involve fuel cells and four would use anaerobic digestion, which processes plant materials into methane gas for heating and power.
"Our view is that fuel cells need to be part of Connecticut's energy and economic solution," Gelston said Monday. "If these projects are selected, that would mean over $70 million in new state revenue and over 700 new direct and indirect jobs for Connecticut."
Jennifer Arasimowicz, FuelCell Energy senior vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary, said company officials remain hopeful their projects will be among those selected by DEEP. Previous submissions the company has made for similar request for proposals have not been selected.
Company officials have undertaken an aggressive campaign to educate state lawmakers about the benefits of selecting grid-scale fuel cell projects in Connecticut's energy portfolio, Arasimowicz said. And the current RFP process has been modified from previous ones, she said.
"We think there has been a disconnect between the environmental policies of this state and the economic policies," Arasimowicz said.
Selection of some of FuelCell Energy's projects would mean more manufacturing jobs created at the company's factory in Torrington, she said.
In addition to the projects FuelCell Energy submitted on its own, the company also is a part of the Beacon Falls Energy Park project that is competing to help fill Connecticut's renewable energy needs. Plans call for the Beacon Falls energy facility to produce 63.3 megawatts of power when it is built, which would make it the largest energy generation unit of its kind in the world, according to William Corvo, manager of the project.
The fuel cell park will be built on property owned by Torrington-based O&G Industries Inc., one of the Northeast's largest construction companies and the parent company of the generation facility. O&G also will be the lead contractor for the project, according to Corvo.
FuelCell Energy will produce the 21 individual fuel cells for the project. In addition to manufacturing the fuel cells, FuelCell Energy is expected to operate and maintain the plant under a long-term service agreement.
"Connecticut is known as the 'Silicon Valley' of fuel cell technology and is home to two world-recognized leaders in the engineering, development and manufacture of fuel cells," Corvo said. "FuelCell Energy and Doosan Fuel Cell America in South Windsor have hundreds of employees in Connecticut and support important manufacturing and engineering jobs."
Corvo said the limited liability company overseeing the project, Beacon Falls Energy Park, recently signed a contract to extend its interconnection agreement with ISO-New England, the operator of the region's electric grid. This allows the project to maintain an active position in the ISO New England queue for the next three years, he said.
"The queue position is necessary for the project to be able to generate electricity into the ISO New England grid," Corvo said. "Beacon Falls Energy Park is a fully permitted and 'shovel ready' fuel cell facility."
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