The Malloy administration directed the stateâ€™s first purchase of offshore wind power, joining Connecticut with southern New Englandâ€™s drive to generate wind power from the Atlantic Ocean.
The state, announcing its renewable energy projects, also made a commitment to fuel cells, which was welcomed by one of Connecticutâ€™s two fuel cell manufacturers.
Six projects selected by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection include 200 megawatts of offshore wind from Deepwater Wind, which is harnessing wind power off Block Island and Massachusetts. The Connecticut project will add to 400 megawatts selected by Rhode Island. The 200 megawatts would power about 100,000 homes.
Jeffrey Grybowski, Deepwaterâ€™s chief executive officer, said Connecticutâ€™s commitment to wind power is significant. The state cannot generate much wind power because it lacks access to the ocean, the source of the strongest wind power, and to sweeping vistas on land.
Instead, the Malloy administration committed Connecticut to buying offshore wind power that will be offered to the New England power grid. Grybowski called it a â€śhuge help.â€ť
â€śThatâ€™s frankly the most important thing states can do is support these projects,â€ť he said.
Emily Lewis, a policy analyst at Acadia Center, said the clean energy advocacy group hopes the state builds on its commitment â€śby setting an ambitious offshore wind mandate that creates a sustainable offshore wind industry.â€ť
The Malloy administration also directed that 52 megawatts of fuel cell energy be generated in projects in Colchester, Derby, Hartford and New Britain. That will double the capacity of fuel cells in Connecticut, said Mary Sotos, a deputy commissioner of DEEP.
â€śWe are pleased that DEEP has decided to award these projects,â€ť said Chip Bottone, president and CEO of FuelCell Energy Inc. in Danbury. â€śThese projects will provide local tax revenue, high-tech manufacturing jobs, economic development benefits and clean energy resources consistent with the goals of Connecticutâ€™s renewable portfolio.â€ť
â€śAll in all, it was a very good announcement for us,â€ť said Thomas Gelston, vice president of investor relations at FuelCell Energy.
In previous proposals for clean energy, the state passed over fuel cells, settling instead for solar and wind power. The decisions angered industry backers who said the failure to promote Connecticutâ€™s fuel cell industry was a slap at economic development that has touted Connecticutâ€™s ties to fuel cell companies.
The renewable energy package also includes 1.6 megawatts generated by an anaerobic digestion project in Southington. The process uses microorganisms that break down biodegradable material.
â€śWe have an obligation to our children and grandchildren to invest in energy projects that reduce the impacts of harmful emissions,â€ť Malloy said. â€śThatâ€™s why Connecticut is making investments in the technologies of the future, not of the past.â€ť
The selections in the procurement are equivalent to about 5 percent of Connecticutâ€™s load, or the total amount of electricity that Connecticut consumes. Selected projects will now enter negotiations with Eversource and United Illuminating, the stateâ€™s two regulated utilities, to reach agreements on 20-year contracts.
If successful, the contracts will be subject to approval by the state Public Utilities Regulatory Authority. The various procedures could be completed by the end of the year, Sotos said.
Broad energy legislation enacted this year by the General Assembly and Malloy includes two components related to fuel cells. The state is authorized â€” but not required â€” to approve, over six years, fuel cell projects of up to 10 megawatts of power per year, with individual projects capped at 2 megawatts.
The law increases the procurement of power from fuel cells for the energy grid from 4 percent to 6 percent of total load. Some capacity remains, allowing DEEP to procure more energy in the future as prices decline, Sotos said.
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