Conn.'s Clean Energy Plan: 250 MW, Millions in City Revenues, Thousands of Jobs

Selections for Connecticut's Clean Energy RFP include 52 MW of fuel cell, 200 MW of offshore wind and upwards of 4,000 jobs.

Not only are underused properties in Connecticut finding new life in fuel cell power generation as part of the state awarding several renewable energy projects under it's Clean Energy Request for Proposals (RFP), several municipalities will benefit from millions in new revenues while an estimated 4,000 thousand short- and long-term jobs are proposed.

The request, a pursuit of 250 MW of clean energy, has also resulted in the state's first wind energy generation project moving forward, according to last month's announcement.

The Clean Energy RFP saw 27 bidders, according to the News Times, proposing numerous benefits and host community commitments.

Host Cities Will See Large Revenues Generated

FuelCell Energy, Inc. announced last month that the Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection (DEEP) approved a 14.8 megawatt project in Derby and a 7.4 megawatt project in Hartford.

Such projects can compete with gas-powered generation facilities. The company's website addresses the value proposition for customers and ratepayers of its products: fuel cell power is efficient, eliminates criteria pollutants and offers installation benefits.

According to Chip Bottone, president and chief executive officer of the company, "Fuel cells are one of the most space-efficient, resilient clean energy technologies qualified under Connecticut Class 1 Renewable Portfolio Standard. These projects will provide local tax revenue, high tech manufacturing jobs, economic development benefits and clean energy resources consistent with the goals of Connecticut’s renewable portfolio.”

Themis Klarides, state representative for Connecticut’s 114th District and House Republican Leader, also noted the economic benefit to the city of Derby.

This project will provide a significant boost to our residents and taxpayers, bringing both clean local power generation and a significant new source of tax revenue to Derby,” he said in a prepared statement.

Fuel cells are eligible for the Connecticut Low Emission Renewable Energy Credit (LREC) auction, extended through 2019. The average price for fuel cells declined from 15.6 cents/kWh in 2011 to 11.6 cents/kWh with these awards, according to DEEP.

Projects Should Spawn Economic Development 

State officials also selected fuel cell projects based in Colchester and New Britain, bringing the total fuel cell power generation under the Clean Energy RFP to 52 megawatts.

Doosan Fuel Cell America, EIP, LLC and Mayor Erin Stewart announced the approved plans to build Connecticut’s largest approved fuel cell center in a 45,000-square-foot building that was once a Stanley hardware stamping plant, according to The Hartford Courant.

The partners will start constructing the 20-megawatt facility in early 2019, said Mark Wick, a partner at EIP, LLC. The project's 44 fuel cells the size of truck trailers will connect to the power grid later in the year.

This is going to be the catalyst for incredible development,” Stewart said.

EIP said fuel cell operation are expected to generate $8 million in tax revenue for New Britain over 20 years. Michael Coskun, business development manager for Doosan, said that a third phase could make the facility the largest fuel cell installation in the world. That future expansion could generate an additional $33 million for the city, according to EIP.

Development of a 200 MW offshore wind farm by Deepwater Wind under the Clean Energy RFP includes a $15 million investment in the New London State Pier -- needed to construct the wind farm's foundation components and offshore substation. That investment is expected to increase that city's economic development potential during project construction, and attract additional offshore wind projects, according to DEEP.

Jobs, Jobs, Jobs

In New Britain, Clean Energy project partners will further remodel the six-story, World War II-era factory for a high-speed data center -- after the Doosan fuel cell center is built in 2019.

That data center could generate more than 2,500 jobs. That's beyond the promised 400 plus jobs speculated for the first phase of project development.

This is a game-changer in terms of high-tech jobs, high-speed data processing and clean energy, and we applaud the DEEP and its RFP process and the evaluation team for having the vision to recognize not only the clean energy benefits of this project, but also its transformative power as an important first step to a significant economic development opportunity for both New Britain and the state,” said Wick in the state's announcement.

The other three fuel cell projects should create or retain more than 200 jobs, according to DEEP. And another 500 jobs will be generated for construction of the Turning Earth Anaerobic Digestion Project in Southington, also awarded under the Clean Energy RFP.

Additionally, FuelCell Energy just announced it will add more than 100 new advanced manufacturing jobs at its Torrington facility to support a 120 percent production rate increase over the next year as a direct result of its Clean Power RFP award.

Mega Wind Power Jobs

Deepwater Wind has also committed to job development with use of the Port of New London and is entering into a host-community agreement with the city for wind project development.

The Revolution Wind project is a 25-turbine wind farm to be built in federal water near Martha’s Vineyard. Construction is projected to begin in 2021, with power generation beginning in 2023.

The company will contract a Connecticut-based boat builder for one of the project’s crew transfer vessels, open a new development office in New London, work with the Eastern Connecticut Workforce Investment Board on existing workforce programs, partner with the University of Connecticut’s Avery Point Campus and provide local businesses with opportunities to participate in the project under its state contract.

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