Energy park plan hits a snag

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

BEACON FALLS — Hopes to build the world’s largest fuel cell project here has hit a road block as regional authorities failed to choose the endeavor for contract negotiations.

CT Energy & Technology, a limited liability corporation owned by O&G Industries of Torrington, in 2015 proposed building a 63.3 megawatt fuel cell energy park on Lopus Road. The project, called Beacon Falls Energy Park, was slated for a 23.8 acre former stone and gravel quarry site.

FuelCell Energy was notified Monday by CT Energy & Technology that the project was not selected for contract negotiations under the New England Clean Energy Request for Proposals, according to a document filed Tuesday with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

“Company management has consulted with the project developer, as well as the land owner, O&G Industries, and all parties expect to pursue alternate paths to continue to develop and construct the project, based on its merits and favorable economics,” FuelCell Energy stated in the filing. “The company will provide updates on the project’s development in the future.”

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection gave the go-ahead for four other companies to move forward to contract negotiations to bring about 460 megawatts of clean energy to Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

Once those companies complete purchase agreements with Connecticut’s two electric distribution companies, Eversource and United Illuminating, they will be subject to regulatory approval by Public Utilities Regulatory Authority early next year.

No state or ratepayer money is involved in the bid, but the negotiated agreements will guarantee a flow of revenue to the winning companies, allowing them to secure financing to build the projects, DEEP spokesman Dennis Schain said.

Regulators hope the large scale tri-state projects will bring down the cost of energy in New England.

“Bringing these projects online will also play a real part in helping us achieve this state’s carbon reduction targets for 2020 and beyond, which will continue Connecticut’s leadership in efforts to address climate change,” DEEP Commissioner Robert Klee said.

Beacon Falls Energy Park LLC, a subsidiary of CT Energy & Technology, was one of 24 companies submitting bids for clean energy projects.

The Beacon Falls Energy Park was expected to provide energy to about 60,000 state residents and businesses.

Additionally, the project was expected to provide about 115 jobs for O&G and more than 300 jobs to Connecticut for Danbury-based FuelCell, which is developing the fuel cells.

Beacon Falls had signed a payment in lieu of tax agreement with the company that called for it to pay $49.7 million to Beacon Falls over the next 23 years, said Beacon Falls First Selectman Christopher Bielik, a firm supporter of the project.

“We’re all disappointed,” Bielik said. “Beyond the pure economics of what the project could have brought to the town.”

The plans had been approved by the Connecticut Siting Council, which reviews all energy generation proposals in the state.

Bielik said the project would have provided manufacturing jobs and opened up natural gas lines to residents and businesses in town.

“We’re still optimistic that the project might have another means of going forward beyond this. This was just one opportunity in a three-state energy bid,” Bielik said.

There are other energy programs through which the Beacon Falls Energy Park might be able to win the right to negotiate similar power purchase agreements, Schain said.

William Corvo, manager of Beacon Falls Energy Park, did not return requests for comment Tuesday.