Decision imminent on energy park

A rendering of the proposed Beacon Falls Energy Park. –CONTRIBUTED
A rendering of the proposed Beacon Falls Energy Park. –CONTRIBUTED

BEACON FALLS — A final decision on a proposed fuel cell energy park in town is expected to come sooner rather than later.

The Middletown-based Beacon Falls Energy Park, LLC, has proposed building a 63-megawatt fuel cell energy park on a former sand and gravel mine off of Lopus Road owned by O&G Industries, parent of the limited liability company proposing the project. The energy park, which is being billed as the largest fuel cell project in the world, would be constructed on about 10 acres of land within the roughly 25-acre site.

The Connecticut Siting Council has purview over such projects. The council conducted a site walk and held public hearings on the project in November. In December, the council released its draft findings of fact, a document that states the facts and evidence collected throughout the review process. The draft findings of fact is used by the council to make its decision on the project. No new information, evidence or arguments will be considered by the council.

Barring any unforeseen circumstances, that final decision is expected to come at the council’s Jan. 7 meeting, according to Connecticut Siting Council Acting Executive Director Melanie Bachman.

William Corvo, of William Corvo Consultants, Inc. and one of the founders of Beacon Falls Energy Park, LLC, said the project has been moving through the council fairly well.

“Having been in involved in other projects that have gone before the Siting Council, I would say this is going along very smoothly,” Corvo said.

Corvo said he attended the council’s meeting where it reviewed the finding of facts. Some small modifications were made, he said, but there was nothing major or negative in the company’s view.

According to Corvo, the council took an unofficial and informal vote on the project at the end of the meeting, and all the members approved of it.

“It is not binding, but it does give us an indication on what they think,” Corvo said of the unofficial vote.

If the council approves the project, Corvo said the next step for the company will be to finish engineering work. He expects construction on the energy park to begin in late 2016 and take about 21 months to complete.

The fuel cell park would be constructed in phases and be commercially operational by the end of 2019, according to Corvo. He said the energy park would able to start producing electricity before construction has been completed because the fuel cells are modular.

The energy park is expected to provide energy to 60,000 Connecticut residents and businesses, according to the company. It will also mean a windfall of tax revenue for Beacon Falls.

First Selectman Chris Bielik previously said the park is estimated to grow the grand list by about 42 percent.

Corvo said if the council approves the energy park, it will still retain oversight of the project during construction and operation.

“The relationship will last as long as the project is running,” Corvo said.