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This Week at CCSU

CCSU Obtains Fuel Cell Power Plant

With a pair of wire cutters, Governor Malloy and Central Connecticut State University President Jack Miller cut a large power supply cord on July 10, symbolizing the reduction in electrical power needed to run CCSU’s campus. A 1.4 megawatt fuel cell power plant, stationed at the campus, is in full operation saving the University significant money while reducing its carbon footprint.

Also taking part in the “power cutting” ceremony were a senior advisor at the U.S. Department of Energy and representatives from Greenwood Energy, FuelCell Energy Inc., and the Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority (CEFIA).

CCSU’s power costs will be reduced annually by more than $100,000 — a savings for both the university and Connecticut taxpayers — President Miller pointed out to the audience of University faculty, staff and special guests.

“As an institution of higher education, it is our responsibility to take a leadership role in developing policies, infrastructure and institutional practices that lead to a culture change,” said Miller. “This power plant is a significant step in helping CCSU achieve our aggressive goals for reducing greenhouse gases and improving energy efficiency on campus.”

The $9M project to build, finance and station the fuel cell power plant at CCSU is the result of a successful collaboration of federal, state, and private partners, according to Miller.

“We couldn’t do this alone,” Miller emphasized. “We wish to thank Greenwood Energy for its financing of the fuel cell power plant, along with the Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority, and our thanks to FuelCell Energy which designed and built this plant.”

Representing federal energy officials, Peter Gage told the audience that he was there to add to the chorus of support for the project. “We feel it is important to support projects like this and get the word out about how clean energy is creating jobs and bringing energy security to communities around the country right now, and this is a great example,” Gage said.

According to FuelCell Energy, the Direct FuelCell® power plant is the largest fuel cell operating on any college campus in the northeast.

“We are proud to be part of this special partnership enabling FuelCell Energy to install this power plant at CCSU. This project illustrates how private capital can be used to provide financial and public benefits for the reliable and efficient generation of both electricity and steam in an environmentally friendly manner,” said Chip Bottone, president and chief executive officer, FuelCell Energy, Inc.

The fuel cell power generation process is highly efficient, generating more power from a given unit of fuel and lower greenhouse gas emissions, compared to combustion-based power sources of a similar size. The CCSU plant uses natural gas for fuel to generate ultra-clean electricity via an electrochemical reaction. Due to the absence of combustion, virtually zero pollutants are emitted such as NOx, SOx or particulate matter.

Greenwood Energy, the developer and owner of the power plant, purchased the fuel cell equipment from FuelCell Energy and sells ultra-clean electricity and steam to CCSU under a long-term Energy Purchase Agreement. FuelCell Energy maintains the plant under a multi-year service agreement with Greenwood.

“We are pleased to have partnered with CCSU to bring this fuel cell project to fruition and appreciate the support of Governor Malloy and CEFIA who share our commitment to clean energy,” said Camilo Patrignani, CEO of Greenwood Energy, a subsidiary of The Libra Group. “We look forward to working with the Connecticut State University System and other customers to develop future projects throughout the state and beyond for our portfolio of clean power generation solutions.”

CEFIA also provided $3.4 million in federal and state proceeds to fund the fuel cell project. “This project demonstrates how innovative financial structures can bring together private capital and public resources to deploy clean energy on our college campuses,” states Bryan Garcia, president of the Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority. “An energy savings agreement such as that used in this project can support the widespread adoption of commercially viable clean energy technologies like fuel cells in our businesses and institutions.”

The fuel cell power station at CCSU is the most recent in a stream of sustainability initiatives at the University. In 2007, President Miller became one of the first to sign the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment to achieve climate neutrality. In each of the last three years, the Princeton Review has selected CCSU as an “exemplary green institution” based on the University’s sustainability commitment.