Energy park waiting on consortium’s decision

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

BEACON FALLS — Months after the Connecticut Siting Council gave its blessing for a 63.3-megawatt fuel cell energy park to be built off of Lopus Road, the project remains on hold as a consortium ponders bids for clean energy projects.

Beacon Falls Energy Park, LLC, the company behind the proposed energy park with the same name, is one of many companies to respond to a New England Clean Energy request for proposals (RFP). Beacon Falls Energy Park submitted its bid in January.

The bids are being reviewed by a three-state consortium, made up of Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island, and are for contracts to become an energy provider in each of the three states.

The consortium was supposed to choose the winning bids by the end of July. However, the decision was delayed.

“Given the complexity of the analysis and the volume of bids, additional time is needed for evaluation. We will continue to move the process forward as quickly as possible,” the consortium stated on its website.

It did not give a new estimated date of when it would make the decision.

In Connecticut, the bid is for a 20-year contract with Eversource Energy. The contract would be overseen by the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

William Corvo, of William Corvo Consultants, Inc. and one of the founders of Beacon Falls Energy Park, said the contract would allow the company to secure funding for the project.

Corvo anticipated the delay in awarding the bids.

“One of the things causing the delay is that they are attempting to evaluate a whole bunch of technology at the same time,” Corvo said.

In addition to the fuel cell project, Corvo said, there were also submissions for wind turbines, solar projects, and hydro-electric projects. He expects the consortium to issue its decision before Labor Day.

Corvo believes the fuel cell project stands a good chance of being one of the winning bids. He pointed to the amount of electricity the project is able to generate as one of its major draws.

“We had looked at doing a solar project. Right now we will be producing 63 megawatts on 11 acres. With solar, on all 50 acres [on the site], the most we would have been producing is 11 or 12 megawatts,” Corvo said.

If the energy park is not awarded a bid, Corvo said, he would explore alternative methods of moving the project forward.

“We have all of our permits and are ready to go,” Corvo said.

If everything goes as planned, the energy park will be located at the site of a former sand and gravel mine owned by O&G Industries, parent of the limited liability company, off of Lopus Road.

The Connecticut Siting Council approved the project in January, Beacon Falls subsequently reached a tax stabilization agreement with the company. Under the agreement, Beacon Falls Energy Park would pay $49.7 million in taxes over 22 and half years.

Although he was disappointed the consortium delayed its decision, First Selectman Christopher Bielik is was still optimistic the outcome will be favorable for the project.

“One of the charges they are looking for is the cleanest possible sources of energy and to diversify clean energy sources in the state. The process used by fuel cells is a very clean process and it is the only project of its kind. If they are looking to have a diversity of clean energy providers that would bode well for us,” Bielik said.