Natural Gas, Fuel Cells, Off-Shore Wind and Solar Projects Are Competiting For Legislative and Regulator Support

 Eversource Invests in Massive Wind Project Off Martha’s Vineyard Mass Governor Opens Sea Passage For Off-shore Wind Power


By Mitchell Young

Dong Sept 16

BOSTON: Hartford based, Eversource [NYSE: ES, previously Northeast Utilities] has announced a 50-50 partnership with Dong Energy of Fredericia, Denmark, to develop Bay State Wind, a proposed offshore wind power installation. Located approximately 15 to 20 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard it is estimated to include 100 wind turbines and cost at least $1 billion. Eversource has committed $10 million to get the project rolling.

Eversource CEO, Jim Judge hailed the project and positioned it as a regional innovation saying, “New England is setting the pace for a national clean energy future with its proven track record in energy efficiency and bold clean energy goals,” adding, “our partnership with DONG Energy on Bay State Wind represents a significant opportunity to help make those goals a reality and we look forward to delivering this renewable and reliable source of power to customers.”

By Jan Ellen Spiegel

gas pipeline

A construction crew prepares to bend a section of 36-inch diameter pipe to follow the contours of the terrain in Cromwell as part of the expansion of the Algonquin natural gas pipeline. 

A construction crew prepares to bend a section of 36-inch diameter pipe to follow the contours of the terrain in Cromwell as part of the expansion of the Algonquin natural gas pipeline.

Connecticut’s Comprehensive Energy Strategy, enacted three years ago, set the state on its first-ever, broad-based approach to energy use and development in the face of climate change.

The strategy, generally referred to by its initials CES, put considerable focus on natural gas, then far cheaper than oil, as a cleaner bridge fuel to renewable energy options down the road. It called for conversions from oil to gas for heating, and it stressed the need to expand natural gas pipeline capacities to carry the large amount of fracked gas that was available so that power plants could switch from oil or coal to natural gas and new natural gas plants could be built.

That was the plan anyway.

Three years later, as state officials update the CES as required by law, they face dramatically changed energy, environmental and political landscapes that raise questions about whether the last three years may have been partly wasted and how to regroup.

 Metro NorthNEW HAVEN:  Metro North has ordered up to 94 additional new M8 rail cars for the New Haven Line.

Metro North already has 405 M8s for the New Haven and New Canaan lines, 60 of the new railcars are on firm order and another 34 are on option. The additional cars will be in service within three years and more fun is in store for riders, ten cars are being retrofitted as Café Cars.

On the other the fun may be somewhat limited as like the new cars all the M8s are being retrofitted to include security cameras in engineers’ cabs and customer areas. The cars will be manufactured in Lincoln, Nebraska, and tested in New York and Connecticut.

Iftikhar Ahmad


Evan Matthews

Ports in Southern New England are getting new leadership. Iftikhar Ahmad is flying in as the new director of T.F Green Airport in Rhode Island. Ahmad was most recently the CEO at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International, after “flights” at airports in Houston, Texas and Dayton, Ohio.

In Connecticut, Evan Matthews will be steering the Connecticut Port Authority as its new executive director. Matthews was previously port director for the Quonset Development Corporation in Rhode Island.

The Connecticut Port Authority is a quasi-public agency created in 2014 and is responsible for marketing and coordinating the development of the state’s ports and maritime economy. 

Connecticut is home to three deepwater ports:  Bridgeport, New Haven, and New London. According to a study published in 2010 by the Connecticut Maritime Coalition, prior to the onset of the “Great Recession.” Connecticut’s maritime industry contributed more than $5 billion to the state’s economy and employed more than 30,000 people.

The Authority cites a Connecticut  Department of Economic and Community Development analysis that found the industry has rebounded from the recession, now employing slightly more than 30,000 people.

sunMiddletown: Greenskies Renewable Energy has been ranked as the nation’s No. 1 solar developer among commercial contractors on Solar Power World’s 2016 Top 500 Solar Contractors list.

Solar Power World’s fifth annual Top Solar Contractors list is the “most recognized annual listing of North America’s top solar contractors.”
Thje magazine groups the Solar companies by the markets they serve (commercial, residential, utility) and by the specific service sector they represent (construction firms, developers, rooftop contractors, electrical subcontractors, etc.)

The Stem Building at SCSU  New Haven

By Taylor Nicole Richards

Southern Connecticut State University opened up their new home for the sciences in the fall of 2015. The massive two winged, four-floored academic science and laboratory building houses a center for nanotechnology as well as high performance training labs for computing, astronomy, cancer research, and molecular biology. It’s also home to the Werth Center for Coastal and Marine Studies. Along with being a tremendous resource to all these fields, the building has many sustainable functions.

When it’s raining, one will notice two downspouts in front of the main quad entrance with water flowing onto a boulder. All rainwater is collected in a recycling system from the roofs by gutters and is redirected back into the building and is used to water the surrounding quad.

“The water collected from the gutters spills over boulders taken from Stony Creek Quarry in Branford and is collected by a perimeter drain, then channeled into a 40,000 gallon cistern buried under the quad,” said Reno Migani, senior associate of Centerbrook Architects & Planners, LLP and project manager for the architectural design of the building. “The water is treated with an ultraviolet light filtration system, meaning no chemicals. It’s then used for the site irrigation, reducing the need for potable water used for irrigation by 50 percent.”

The rainwater recycling system is just one of the many sustainable features of the new building. Laboratories and fume hoods are generally the largest consumers of energy in a facility. Often, fume hoods are required to run 24/7. In lab buildings, all of the air used must be outside air, which needs to be dehumidified, heated, and conditioned before entering the building. This requires massive amounts of energy to circulate such a high volume of air. To reduce this energy, several devices were used.

The first is called an Energy Recovery Unit (ERU). This is an air collection box that captures heat from contaminated lab exhaust air before it exits the building and transfers it safely back into the building, reducing energy needed to heat the incoming outside air. The second device is called a Variable Geometry Damper, which reduces the energy required to exhaust the contaminated air out the exhaust flues.

“Every new project I work on I learn so much from my clients,” said Migani. “I had to work closely with the science professors to make sure everything could run smoothly.”

Condensation from the mechanical equipment is captured and reused as makeup water for the building’s cooling towers. Low-consumption toilets and low-flow faucets are also used to save water. All these energy saving strategies exceeds the original goals by 32 percent. Twenty percent of the building’s materials are recycled content, and 20 percent of the materials are regionally sourced, according to Migani.

The sustainability of the science building still doesn’t end there. The roofs and paving materials are a light color to reduce the “urban heat island effect,” which wastes a lot of energy. The surrounding plants outside require low maintenance. There’s also designated parking spots for battery-run cars.

“Nothing inspires and instructs more profoundly than great art and architecture and our new Academic Science and Laboratory Building is, at once, both,” said Steven Breese, Dean of the university’s School of Arts & Sciences. “It is a powerful state-of-the-art teaching and learning environment, as well as a beautifully imagined and designed structural centerpiece.”

Sherrill Baldwin inside Ecoworks

Ecoworks’ Sherill Baldwin, creating beginnings out of ends.


New Haven

By Taylor Nicole Richards

Reusing and recycling are two very different things when it comes to waste management. Recycling is taking used material, breaking it down, and creating something useable again. Reusing is taking that item, whatever it is, and re-purposing it in its original condition. Reuse instead of recycling reduces greenhouse gas emissions and holds the potential to support the local economy.

This is a philosophy that Sherill Baldwin lives by that spawned the creation of her store and creative reuse center, Ecoworks Inc. on State Street. Baldwin and her team take manufacturers scrap, samples from architects, and material by-products from various businesses and sell it at low prices. There is also a gift and consignment shop in the front that sells work from local artists.

In the beginning, Ecoworks discovered many businesses that saw the reuse value of their waste, but didn’t want to deal with artists constantly knocking on their door or the remorse of throwing it all away. Now her company serves as the middleman.

“We’re looking at it from a perspective of trying to reduce waste but also giving access to people that wouldn’t normally have access,” said Baldwin. “These businesses and manufacturers see us providing a value where they don’t have to coordinate meeting with a lot of people. We just take all their stuff.”

The materials that Ecoworks sells are for anyone to re-purpose, but Baldwin saw the need for low-cost art supplies and scraps for teachers and artists. Through her frequent interaction with school teachers, she noticed them spending hundreds of dollars yearly of their own money on materials to supplement their school supplies. 

“In addition to surplus and things that businesses throw away that have value to a lot of artists, school teachers are always looking for low-cost supplies,” said Baldwin. “They are committed to the work they do. You find that art teachers, as well as others, are looking for creative ways to engage students and will spend more.”

All members volunteer their time to run the shop through their shared passion for sustainability. The store is open two days a week and sees teachers and artists from all around Connecticut making the time to stock up. They also hold craft workshops led by local artists that utilize their materials. Every month, Ecoworks opens shop apart from regular business hours to participate in On 9 New Haven events, a collaborative open-house evening in 9th Square.

Instead of just providing a service, Ecoworks has a core mission of using creativity and fun as a means of making the planet a better place. 

“We find that when people engage in a fun way, they’re more likely to practice new behavior. It’s one thing if a business is trying to lessen their carbon footprint, but we’re really trying to recognize the value in materials,” said Baldwin. “All the stuff in the store was, at one point, destined for disposal. Instead of it going to a local waste energy facility, it is in fact getting in the hands of others that are trying to use it.”

New Haven

By Taylor Nicole Richard

common ground new building exterior is a high school, urban farm, and environmental education center that functions entirely within New Haven city limits. Its location at the base of West Rock Ridge State Park spans 20 acres of parkland while still accessible by city public transit. The site allows students and community members to engage in the natural world while connecting their education to urban sustainability.

High school students enrolled at Common Ground have the opportunity to learn about agriculture, environmental sustainability, and interact with animals all while taking traditional school classes in math, science, visual and language arts.