NEW BRITAIN - The wheels are in motion for what is being hailed by officials as one of the most significant private-sector investments in recent Connecticut history.
The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection on Wednesday approved a proposal allowing work to begin on the first phase of an energy and innovation park in New Britain.
Energy Innovation Park, LLC, will construct a 19.98-megawatt fuel-cell grid on the Stanley Black & Decker campus.
This grid will produce electricity through a chemical reaction between fuel and an oxidant.
The process creates minimal byproducts of water and a small amount of nitrous oxide, so the fuel cell project is part of Connecticut’s effort to better use clean energy.
This will be the first of several phases of the $1 billion Energy and Innovation Park in New Britain’s urban core. The project will provide 3,000 direct and indirect jobs and generate significant tax revenues - $8 million for New Britain for the fuel cell project alone over 20 years.
The total project will provide more than $45 million for New Britain and $200 million in revenue for the state over that span.
Some of the jobs to be created are high-end construction jobs, high-tech manufacturing jobs and electrical jobs.
“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 (request for proposals) 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 Mark Wick, a partner with EIP, LLC.
Wick also said, “What makes this truly unique are the enormous economic benefits it will provide to the region and the state by re-using assets that are already here. Energy policy can spur economic development, and this technology park will demonstrate exactly how.”
The proposal was submitted to and selected by DEEP as a response to an RFP seeking eligible Class I Clean Energy Generation projects with renewable energy credits.
“We will immediately begin finalizing a power purchase agreement with Eversource and securing approval from the state’s Public Utilities Regulatory Authority, with construction expected to start in early 2019,” Wick added.
Wick said the fuel-cell-based project is an excellent energy project on its own, and has generated widespread business and political support due to its many economic and environmental benefits. The fuel cells will be manufactured by Doosan Fuel Cell America in South Windsor.
The project reuses existing industrial electric and gas infrastructure to further reduce project costs and provide cost-effective and environmentally conscious heating and cooling for adjacent businesses, and will act as catalyst to the additional phases of the project by enhancing local grid reliability for the high-performance computing center and making those services available to key industry clusters throughout the state, according to a written statement.
The successful submission to DEEP included a letter of support signed by the entire New Britain legislative delegation, as well as support from New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart and the New Britain Chamber of Commerce.
EIP, LLC has a teaming agreement with Centrica Business Solutions, sister company of Direct Energy. Centrica Business Solutions will provide oversight on aspects of the project design, interaction with energy markets, construction, and operations.
Staff writer Skyler Frazer contributed to this report.