Renewable Energy Gets Big Boost in Connecticut
March 28, Rocky Hill – The Connecticut Clean Energy Fund (CCEF), a ratepayer fund administered by Connecticut Innovations Inc. (CI), a quasi-public state authority, has screened and selected 11 renewable energy projects to forward to the state’s two electric distribution companies, the Connecticut Light and Power Company (CL&P) and the United Illuminating Company (UI), under Round 2 of Project 100. These electric distribution companies will review CCEF’s recommendations and perform additional analyses leading to their selection of projects to receive long-term power purchase agreements. This was the second round of projects selected through Project 100, an innovative program created by the Connecticut General Assembly to develop not less than 100 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy generation for the benefit of all Connecticut consumers. Round 1 of Project 100 resulted in the electric distribution companies negotiating a long-term power purchase contract representing approximately 15 MW of new renewable generation.
The groundbreaking legislation that launched Project 100 was created because large renewable energy projects are difficult to finance without long-term contracts. Under the 2003 state energy act, Connecticut’s two major utilities are required to enter into long-term power purchase agreements with developers to purchase not less than 100 MW of Class I renewable energy. In the implementation process, the Connecticut Clean Energy Fund is charged with issuing requests for proposals (RFPs) from developers and the initial screening and analysis to select projects that will benefit all Connecticut consumers. After the selection process, the best projects are forwarded to CL&P and UI for further review and contract negotiation. Those given the “green light” through long-term contracts also receive funding from CCEF.
CCEF implemented a thorough, 4-step review process to vet the projects submitted. Projects were first assessed and scored by the Evaluation Working Group, consisting of three external renewable-energy consultants and one CCEF staff member. Working Group members scored projects based on cost to ratepayers, benefit to ratepayers, feasibility and financial viability. Projects, along with their assessments and scores, were then reviewed by the 6-member Steering Committee, consisting of representatives from the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection, Connecticut Development Authority, Energy & Environmental Ventures and Clean Energy Advisory Committee. Projects on a “short list” identified by this committee were then evaluated by the Clean Energy Advisory Committee of Connecticut Innovations, with a final review and authorization of funding rendered by the Clean Energy Investment Committee of Connecticut Innovations.
The following projects representing a diversity of fuel sources and technologies were selected to be recommended to the electric distribution companies under the Round 2 competition:
7.9 megawatt fuel cell/turbo expander project by FuelCell Energy and Enbridge Inc. in Milford, Conn.
29.9 megawatt landfill gas project by EMCOR Energy Services in South Norwalk, Conn.
30 megawatt biomass project by NuPower, LLC, and Decker Energy International Inc. in Plainfield, Conn.
19.6 megawatt fuel cell project by Elemental Power Group in Danbury, Conn.
4.6 megawatt fuel cell project by EMCOR Energy Services in Stamford, Conn.
3 megawatt biomass project by Clearview Power, LLC, in East Canaan, Conn.
2.3 megawatt fuel cell project by EMCOR Energy Services in Waterbury, Conn.
19.6 megawatt fuel cell project by Elemental Power Group in Bridgeport, Conn.
13.7 megawatt fuel cell project by FuelCell Energy, Pure Power, LLC, and Pinpoint Power, LLC, in Bridgeport, Conn.
1 megawatt fuel cell project by UTC Power, LLC, in Wallingford, Conn.
27.8 megawatt biomass project by Clearview Power, LLC, in Bozrah, Conn.
Source: CT Clean Energy Fund
Warehouse Stores Go Solar
March 19, Rocky Hill – BJ’s Wholesale Club, which operates more than 170 stores and has corporate headquarters in Natick, Massachusetts, recently installed a 82.8- kilowatt DC photovoltaic system at its Derby store. In a partnership with Conservation Services Group (CSG) of Westborough, Massachusetts, BJ’s Wholesale Club has installed solar PV systems on 14 of its stores to demonstrate the company’s desire to purchase and promote clean energy for environmental responsibility. These systems are designed, installed and owned by CSG, who sells the solar electricity back to BJ’s. This installation was made possible through a $371,000 grant from the CCEF. A second Connecticut installation of the same size was recently completed at the BJ’s in Willimantic.
“We have been working with BJ’s for almost eight years to develop our innovative business model for installing PV on their roofs," says John Hoffner, Director of Technical Services of CSG. "It is a win-win for both parties – BJ’s provides CSG with a large roof for PV, and they get to purchase the electricity at a reasonable price.”
“At BJ’s Wholesale Club, we believe that a comprehensive energy management plan must support energy efficiency, commodity purchasing strategies and the application of innovative and environmentally beneficial technologies such as renewable energy. Solar power partnerships like this one are an important component of BJ’s overall commitment to reducing energy consumption and preserving the environment for future generations.” Michael Pace, Energy Engineer, BJ’s Wholesale Club.
Live production data from this solar PV installation can be viewed online at www.vaeis.com/site/info
Source: CT Clean Energy Fund
Mass Transit Ridership Increases by 2.7 Million
March 13, Hartford – Connecticut's bus and rail services saw ridership increase by 2.7 million in 2006, proving that the state's mass transit efforts are paying off, Gov. M. Jodi Rell said last Sunday.
The largest increase was in the state's bus service, which had 1.5 million new riders last year on daily fixed routes, a 5 percent jump. The New Haven line of the Metro-North rail service had more than 1 million additional passengers in 2006, also a 5 percent increase. And Shore Line East rail ridership increased by 35,000, or 8 percent.
The new numbers are included in the state Department of Transportation's annual bus and rail ridership report. Rell attributed the increases to the state's efforts to expand service, enhance amenities and educate the public and businesses about the value of transit services. She also said higher fuel prices have played a role.
"More and more Connecticut commuters are hearing our message: Please take your cars off the road and hop on a train or a bus," Rell said in a statement. "That's the best way to unclog our highways and parkways."
Rell also said increasing transit ridership helps expand the economy by making Connecticut a better place to do business.
DOT Commissioner Ralph J. Carpenter said the governor and the legislature have made a major commitment to fund improvements to public transportation. He said new buses and rail cars will be coming on line in the near future.
"We invite more of the state's citizens to join the move toward mass transit as the best means of getting to and from work," he said.
Metro-North's New Haven line carried nearly 35 million passengers in 2006 and continues to be one of the busiest commuter lines in the country. Nearly half its riders are rush-hour commuters to Manhattan.
Source: Associated Press
Two Connecticut Fuel Cell Companies Make News
March 9 – UTC Power, based in South Windsor and Distributed Energy in Wallingford made news in separate announcements this week. UTC power was chosen to supply fuel cells to Fujitsu America's Silicon Valley Campus located in Sunnyvale, Calif. Distributed Energy announced the formation of a joint venture with Morgan Stanley to develop and finance new power generation projects.
Fujitsu America, Inc. has selected UTC Power, a United Technologies (NYSE:UTX) company, to provide a PureCell™ Model 200 fuel cell to power and heat a portion of its Silicon Valley Campus located in Sunnyvale, Calif. UTC Power also will service the unit for 15 years. This makes Fujitsu the Silicon Valley’s first long-term user of this environmentally-friendly technology. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
According to Marty W. Engh, Sr., Facilities Services Director of the Fujitsu Silicon Valley Campus, “Because fuel cells are among the cleanest power-generating technologies available today, this installation is only the beginning of our relationship with UTC Power. Fuel cells operate without combustion. Hydrogen fuel and oxygen from the air are combined in the fuel cell to produce electricity, heat and water. We are pleased to bring this green alternative energy solution to Silicon Valley and make our contribution to the Valley’s critical clean air initiative.”
Fujitsu expects this fuel cell unit to pay for itself in about three years because of the energy savings it will generate. It offers an extremely attractive, sustainable, reliable and efficient on-site energy solution that the company requires.
The Fujitsu Silicon Valley Campus, with 1,200 employees, is the primary North America base for a number of Fujitsu Group Companies in the fields of computer systems and services, components, peripherals and research and development. To support these operations, the PureCell system will produce 200 kilowatts of assured power plus 870,000 Btu/hour of heat for combined heat and power applications. This is approximately 10 percent of the energy required by the Campus.
Distributed Energy Systems Corporation, the parent company of fuel cell developer Proton Energy Systems, has announced the formation of a joint venture with Morgan Stanley to develop and finance new power generation projects.
The agreement made with the Wall Street investment bank will see financial support provided to US projects, which will include fuel cell technology development and renewable energy sources.
According to Distributed Energy, the joint venture will provide "full project life cycle services". These will include assistance with development and financing, as well as later construction and commissioning challenges.
Morgan Stanley is expected to provide most of the capital for the projects.
"Teaming with Morgan Stanley lets us step up to a broader array of project opportunities," commented Distributed Energy's chief executive Ambrose Schwallie.
Source: Fuel Cell Today
Metro Green Could be State’s Largest Mixed Use Green Development
March 7, Stamford – The city Land Use Bureau praised a plan to build 48 units of affordable housing next to the Stamford train station in what would become the state's largest "green" mixed-use development.
In a written assessment of the Metro Green development plan by W&M Properties and housing developer Jonathan Rose Companies, Land Use Bureau Chief said it is unique because it combines several features the city should want - transit-oriented development, on-site affordable housing at nearly double the amount required, consistency with the city's Master Plan and environmentally sensitive design.
The development, on 5 acres of a onetime industrial site immediately south of the train station, "will substantially mitigate traffic and energy concerns while providing a mixture of uses with a substantial amount of affordable housing," Stein wrote, recommending the Zoning Board accept the application for review. W&M - owner of the adjacent Metro Center office building and First Stamford Place off Greenwich Avenue - submitted it last week.
If built, Metro Green, originally named Metro Center II, would include a 17-story, 325,000-square-foot office tower between the train station and Metro Center and 220 units of housing in three buildings.
In a twist for downtown construction projects, the affordable housing component will be included on site and built before the office tower and market-rate housing. Anthony Malkin, part of the family team that owns W&M, said two factors determined the decision to build the housing.
First, his company and Jonathan Rose Cos., which specializes in affordable housing, wanted the affordable component, a five-story apartment building with stoops and small lawns facing Henry Street, to be the first impression of the development."It was important to us that we lead with the below-market rate first," Malkin said.
Second, the developers had to meet a looming deadline to apply for the tax credits from the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority that will finance most of the affordable building, forcing them to compress the planning and design work.
The affordable apartments, most with one or two bedrooms, would be reserved for renters who earn less than 60 percent of the area median income - about $70,000. Rents, determined by individual household income, would range from $545 for a single person earning about $21,800 to more than $1,800 for a family of four with household income of about $70,000. The 48 below-market rate apartments would constitute 23 percent of the housing in the development, nearly double the 12 percent required under city zoning rules for the area around the train station.
Design and planning for the office building and two market-rate residential buildings, though "very, very far along" in the design process, will take longer to complete, Malkin said.
Metro Green stands to become one of the first developments in Connecticut, and the largest, to meet the "green" design standards of the United States Green Building Council.
Source: Stamford Advocate
Fifteen Connecticut Towns Receive Clean Energy Grants
March 5, Rocky Hill – The Connecticut Clean Energy Fund (CCEF) has announced that it has presented fifteen Connecticut towns – Bloomfield, Canton, Cheshire, Chester, Essex, Hartford, Harwinton, Meriden, Plainville, Salisbury, Stamford, West Hartford, Westport, Wethersfield and Woodbridge – with grants of $5,000 each to help their communities support clean energy awareness and education. The CCEF program through which the grants were provided is known as the Community Innovations Grants Program. These new grants follow nine grants announced previously, bringing the total number of Connecticut towns awarded grants through this program to 24.
Under the program, which is funded with $200,000 from CCEF, the first 40 qualifying Connecticut cities and towns are being offered a $5,000 block grant from CCEF. In order to qualify, a municipality must first commit to the SmartPower 20% by 2010 clean energy campaign and attend a workshop on the grants program. The local energy task force in each town coordinates a micro-grant giving process, soliciting and reviewing project proposals from nonprofit organizations or individuals motivated to start up local clean energy awareness and education projects. The energy task force in each town then determines which projects to support with micro-grants of between $250 and $2,000. This program is intended to support creative new ways of promoting and supporting clean renewable energy in our communities.
“In addition to helping Connecticut cities and towns generate awareness of and support for clean energy at the local level, these grants are an excellent tool to help communities qualify for earned solar PV systems,” said Lise Dondy, president of CCEF. “Many communities have creatively used the grants to generate enough clean energy sign-ups to qualify them as Connecticut Clean Energy Communities, thereby earning them the CCEF-provided solar PV systems.”
One of the successful projects funded by the initial round of grants was a campaign by a Boy Scout troop in Portland to raise money for an emergency communications system for the town that would potentially incorporate a solar photovoltaic system. Similarly, the energy task forces in Bethany and Fairfield have helped stimulate enrollments in the CTCleanEnergyOptions program offered to all customers of CL&P and United Illuminating by offering new customers free compact fluorescent lightbulbs that save both energy and money.
For more information regarding the Community Innovations Grants Program, visit www.ctcleanenergy.com/communities/grants.
For information regarding the towns’ plans for deploying their clean energy grant funds, please contact the towns’ local clean energy contacts, whose names are noted at: www.ctcleanenergy.com/communities.
Source: Connecticut Clean Energy Fund