ORANGE and DANBURY, Conn -- The United Illuminating Company, a subsidiary of UIL Holdings Corporation (NYSE:UIL), today announced it has finalized an agreement with the town of Woodbridge to build a state-of-the-art microgrid — powered by a FuelCell Energy, Inc. power plant — that will generate clean energy and ensure that critical municipal facilities have reliable power even when the lights are out elsewhere.
The FuelCell Energy, Inc. (Nasdaq:FCEL) power plant will supply 2.2 megawatts of ultra-clean power to the electric grid under normal operation. The power plant will also serve as the hub of a self-contained microgrid that, in the event of a disruption, will provide an independent power system for seven municipal facilities. The power plant will be located at the Amity Regional High School and the co-generated heat from the fuel cell power generation process will be used for heating the high school and providing hot water.
“This state-of-the-art facility will produce clean power and help ensure that critical municipal services in Woodbridge — including the police and fire departments — can continue to function even when storms and similar events cause widespread power outages,” said James P. Torgerson, UIL’s president and chief executive officer.
The project completes UI’s commitment under Connecticut’s Renewable Connections Program to build and operate facilities generating up to 10 megawatts of clean, class-I renewable energy. UI’s other RCP projects include a 5-megawatt combined fuel cell and solar facility in Bridgeport, and a 2.8-megawatt fuel cell power plant in New Haven. All three facilities use FuelCell Energy, Inc. power plants.
"Ensuring citizens receive reliable and affordable power delivered in a clean manner is the mandate that the State of Connecticut is pursuing, and this project perfectly illustrates what can be accomplished with collaboration between utility companies, the state, the community, and clean energy solutions providers,” said Robert Klee, commissioner of Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP).
UI also finalized contracts with the Amity Regional District No. 5 and the town of Woodbridge to build and operate the power plant and microgrid, which is expected to be operational by late 2016. Seven critical municipal buildings will be part of the microgrid, ensuring a reliable supply of power for government facilities. These include:
Woodbridge Town hall
Public Works Facility
Senior Center (which also serves as an emergency center)
Amity Regional High School
“Amity Regional School District No. 5 is pleased to host this groundbreaking clean energy project, which will deliver economic, environmental, educational, and resiliency benefits to our community,” said Dr. Charles (Chip) Dumais, superintendent of Amity Regional School District No. 5. “We are excited about the educational opportunities that will be available to Amity students and the substantial financial savings that will be realized through reclaimed exhaust heat.”
Under a contract with UI, FuelCell Energy will design, build and install the fuel cell power plant, and will also operate and maintain it under a long-term service agreement. FuelCell Energy is also designing the micro-grid controller that runs its automated operation when the surrounding grid loses power during a storm or other event.
“This project shows the different values clean and affordable fuel cell power plants deliver to multiple stakeholders and is a replicable model for other municipalities evaluating similar structures such as programs being evaluated in the states of New York and California,” said Chip Bottone, chief executive officer of FuelCell Energy, Inc. “Under this utility ownership structure, the town of Woodbridge avoids the need to directly invest in resiliency infrastructure and The United Illuminating Company reinforces its leadership position in terms of reliable power delivery in an environmentally friendly manner.”
The Direct FuelCell® (DFC®) power plant, configured in a combined heat and power (CHP) application, will convert clean natural gas into electricity and heat through an electrochemical process that is free of combustion and virtually absent of harmful pollutants. Fuel cell plants operate quietly and have modest space requirements. The fuel cell power generation process is very efficient and generates both power and heat from the same unit of fuel resulting in a carbon footprint that is about one-quarter that of the average U.S. electric grid. The fuel cell’s environmentally-friendly power generation process supports the town’s sustainability goals and contributes to cleaner air for the citizens of Woodbridge.