Connecticut Delegation Urges Energy Department to Release Remaining Funds of $15 Million Award to Danbury-Based FuelCell Energy
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), and U.S. Representatives John Larson (CT-1), Joe Courtney (CT-2), Rosa DeLauro (CT-3), Jim Himes (CT-4), and Elizabeth Esty (CT-5) urged Department of Energy Secretary Rick Perry on Friday to release the remaining funds of a $15 million grant the Department awarded the Danbury-based FuelCell Energy, Inc. in 2015. FuelCell Energy, Inc. – which also operates a facility in Torrington – received a $15 million commitment from the Department of Energy to develop a fuel cell technology that reduces emissions from coal- and gas-powered plants. To date, the Department of Energy has released only $3 million of their $15 million commitment. In a letter to Secretary Perry, Connecticut’s federal delegation emphasized that completion of FuelCell Energy, Inc.’s technology would directly support American manufacturing jobs and help protect our environment, but that the project cannot be completed without the remainder of the Department of Energy’s $15 million commitment.
“Of the $15 million commitment from the Department, $2 million was obligated at the time of the award, and an additional $1 million followed in August of 2016. Since that time, no funds have flowed to the project, leaving a $12 million commitment from the federal government unobligated,” wrote the delegation. “We urge the Department to obligate additional funds immediately after FuelCell Energy, Inc. reaches the milestones prescribed in the cooperative agreement, as the promising project cannot advance and realize its full potential until the funds are released.”
The members continued, “This project highlights American innovation and manufacturing, and it will directly support U.S. manufacturing jobs. We thank you for your attention to matter, and we again urge you to continue the funding stream for this groundbreaking technology.”
The full text of the letter is available online and below:
Dear Secretary Perry:
We write in strong support of a fuel cell technology that we believe is an important tool to reduce emissions from coal- and gas-powered plants across the country. The technology is currently in the final stages of engineering, and the construction of a large-scale demonstration of this technology at a power plant in Barry, Alabama, is scheduled for 2018. The Department of Energy (Department) already awarded funds to the project in 2015, and a portion of that award has been obligated. We urge the Department to obligate the remaining funds as quickly as possible.
In 2015, FuelCell Energy (FCE) was awarded $15 million (Assistance Agreement Award No. DE-FE0026580) from the Department’s Office of Fossil Energy on this $23.7 million demonstration project. FCE is funding the remaining $8.7 million as part of a cooperative agreement with the Department. Of the $15 million commitment from the Department, $2 million was obligated at the time of the award, and an additional $1 million followed in August of 2016. Since that time, no funds have flowed to the project, leaving a $12 million commitment from the federal government unobligated. It is our understanding that under the cooperative agreement between the Department and FCE, once FCE reaches certain milestones, the Department will release additional funding from the grant award. We urge the Department to obligate additional funds immediately after FCE reaches the milestones prescribed in the cooperative agreement, as the promising project cannot advance and realize its full potential until the funds are released.
The FuelCell Energy technology is innovative insofar as it merges the fuel cell process, which is hungry for carbon dioxide, with power plants that produce large amounts of carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide from the power plants flows into the fuel cell and eventually emerges in a highly concentrated form, ready for storage. Not only is the carbon dioxide separated and compressed, but the fuel cell also produces power in the process, thus making the fuel cell carbon capture technology more cost-effective relative to other technologies. In addition to those benefits, the FuelCell Energy technology also diminishes the amount of nitrous oxides generated by combustion processes in large-scale coal and gas power plants. The Department has previously provided assistance for the research and development of this technology, and the Plant Barry project—the first utility-scale demonstration—is the culmination of those efforts.
The Barry, Alabama project will demonstrate carbon capture from natural gas-fired power generation as well as from coal-fired power generation. After two years of laboratory tests, this megawatt-scale demonstration project is a critical research project for our economy and our environment. Further, this project highlights American innovation and manufacturing, and it will directly support U.S. manufacturing jobs.
We thank you for your attention to matter, and we again urge you to continue the funding stream for this groundbreaking technology.
U.S. Senator Chris Murphy
U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal
U.S. Representative John Larson
U.S. Representative Joe Courtney
U.S. Representative Rosa DeLauro
U.S. Representative Jim Himes
U.S. Representative Elizabeth Esty