State lawmakers are proposing a bill, backed by Gov. Dannel Malloy, that aims to help the state’s fuel-cell industry, which is facing headwinds after a poor showing in a recent renewable energy bidding process and the expiration of an important federal tax credit.
The bill, aired during a public hearing this week, would set up a competitive bidding process specifically for fuel cells, allowing utility companies to build and own fuel-cell power plants themselves or enter into long-term purchase agreements with developers.
Supporters say that fuel cells, considered a Class I renewable energy source in Connecticut, provide reliable power, emit relatively low emissions, and also provide economic benefits to the state in taxes and jobs.
The bill provides for a modest procurement of fuel cells, limited to 10 megawatts.
Fuel-cell makers, including South Windsor’s Doosan and Danbury’s FuelCell Energy, are supportive of the legislation but hoping lawmakers will increase that cap.
William Corvo, president of CT Energy & Technology, which is working to develop a 63-megawatt fuel cell park in Beacon Falls, asked legislators this week to raise the cap to 150 megawatts.
The Public Utilities Regulatory Authority would only approve a fuel-cell development if it “serves the long-term interests of ratepayers” and “cost-effectively avoids or defers distribution system costs.”
A number of state agencies testified in favor of the bill, including the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, the Connecticut Green Bank, the Department of Economic and Community Development and the Office of Consumer Counsel.
Supporters also include the Connecticut Business & Industry Association, the Renewable Energy and Efficiency Business Association, and the Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology.