Energy park plans pushing forward

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

BEACON FALLS — Despite a recent setback, plans to build a 63.3 megawatt fuel cell energy park in Beacon Falls are forging ahead.

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

In January, Beacon Falls Energy Park, LLC, a subsidiary of CT Energy & Technology, submitted a bid under New England Clean Energy’s request for proposals for renewable energy production. The project wasn’t selected for the bid, which would have allowed the company to move forward with contract negotiations to supply energy, guaranteed a buyer for the energy and allowed them to secure financing for the project.

William Corvo, of William Corvo Consultants, Inc. and one of the founders of Beacon Falls Energy Park, LLC, said one of the reasons the company’s bid wasn’t chosen was because Massachusetts and Rhode Island don’t consider fuel cell projects to be renewable energy. Connecticut considers fuel cells a Class 1 renewable energy resource.

“We understood that because we are a fuel cell project they did not consider us. So there was a built in prejudice from those two states right from the beginning,” Corvo said.

The setback doesn’t spell the end of the energy park, however.

Corvo pointed out that Connecticut has a goal of having 20 percent of its energy produced by renewable resources by the year 2020.

“They are very short of that right now,” Corvo said.

Corvo expects the state to put out proposals for clean energy projects just for Connecticut.

A message left with the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection seeking comment wasn’t returned.

Corvo said the company would apply to any requests for proposals the state puts forward.

“We are looking forward to new requests for proposals for energy from Connecticut in the near future,” Corvo said.

Corvo said the energy park project is shovel ready. While the company was waiting to hear from New England Clean Energy, officials simultaneously worked to acquire the necessary permits to construct the energy park, Corvo said.

The energy park has most of its permits and has submitted its development and management plan to the Connecticut Siting Council, Corvo said.

“We want to make sure it is ready to go,” Corvo said.

Beacon Falls First Selectman Christopher Bielik said the town still supports the energy park.

“There is a broad consensus that this is a tremendous opportunity for Beacon Falls. Not just for the pure dollar revenue it will bring but the added value of opening natural gas lines to customers where there has been no realistic opportunity for that,” Bielik said.

In January, Beacon Falls reached a tax stabilization agreement with the energy park. Under the agreement, Beacon Falls Energy Park would pay $49.7 million in taxes over 22 and half years.

Bielik said the town has been very careful not to count on receiving any of that money before plans for the energy park are set and everything moves forward.

“We are letting everybody know that, until any deal is written in stone, nobody should be looking to spend any money,” Bielik said.