Firm files for ruling on energy park plan

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

BEACON FALLS — The plan to build a fuel cell energy park in Beacon Falls has taken a step forward.

Beacon Falls Energy Park, LLC, filed a petition for a declaratory ruling for its 63-megawatt fuel cell park project with the Connecticut Siting Council on Monday. The council has 180 days to reach a decision.

The energy park, which is slated to be the largest of its kind in the world, will be built on 8 acres of land within a 23.8-acre site off Lopus Road. The site is a former sand and gravel mine owned by O&G Industries, parent of the limited liability company proposing the project. It would take up to three years to complete and requires local permitting and approval from state and regional agencies, including the Siting Council.

“The project will return the former sand and gravel mine to the tax rolls as the Beacon Falls Energy Park, and is expected to generate substantial property tax revenue for the Town of Beacon Falls and sales tax revenue to Connecticut over the life of the project,” the company said in a press release.

Beacon Falls Energy Park, LLC, which was formerly known as CT Energy & Technology, expects to generate enough electricity for more than 60,000 Connecticut homes through the energy park.

Connecticut Citing Council Acting Executive Director Melanie Bachman said now that the council has received the petition, it will assign an analyst to review the proposal. The analyst will set up a field review with two members of the council and proponents of the energy park.

Once the field review is completed, Bachman explained, the analyst will draft a report and the energy park will be placed on the council’s agenda. At this point, the council can choose to approve it, deny it or hold a public hearing, she said.

The plan falls within the scope of the projects that the Siting Council can approve by a declaratory ruling. Under state law, the council has jurisdiction over electrical generating facilities and can approve, through a declaratory ruling, the construction of fuel cell generating facilities with a capacity of less than 65 megawatts if the project meets air and quality standards set by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

Fuel cells are considered a renewable energy source in Connecticut. They use an electrochemical process to combine hydrogen found in abundance in natural gas with oxygen from the atmosphere in a process that also produces water and heat.

“When completed, the Beacon Falls Energy Park will contribute to Connecticut’s clean energy goals while improving the state’s grid reliability and stability,” the company said in the press release. “Other renewable energy sources such as wind and solar were also considered for the project site, but ultimately Connecticut manufactured fuel cell technology was chosen because of its ability to produce clean base load electricity at almost 96 percent availability and its low visual and sound profile.”

The Republican-American contributed to this story.