fuel cell 300x156By MItchell Young

DANBURY: Fuel Cell Energy [Nasdaq: FCEL] may finally be lifting its head off mat as its receives one of the largest fuel cell orders ever in the US. PSEG Long Island has agreed to purchase 40 [39.8] megawatts under a Fuel Cell Resources Feed-in Tariff.

According to the company the purchase is “structured to enhance energy resiliency with clean local power generation for Long Island.” The Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) will purchase the power from the fuel cell project under a 20 year power purchase agreement. FuelCell Energy will install, operate and maintain the fuel cell power plants.

The 40 megawatt systems can power 40,000 homes, providing “on-island” generation in a region like  Fairfield County, Long Island that suffers from power congestion problems, as wealthy communities resist the building of new electric transmission lines.

According to Chip Bottone, CEO of FuelCell Energy, Inc., “this utility-issued program is well structured to address power generation and resiliency needs on Long Island by locating clean, quiet and affordable power near existing electrical substations that need additional electricity. ” New York classifies fuel cells as qualified technologies under the New York State Clean Energy Standard.

Each fuel cell project will supply a different LIPA electrical substation in Brookhavenm Long Island.

Fuel Cell had been struggling since New England states failed to authorize a power purchase agreement for the company’s planned 63.3 megawatt plant in Beacon Falls, citing lower costs for solar and wind power. The Beacon Falls plant is to be the largest fuel cell installation in the world, but unlike New York and Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island don’t include fuel cells as qualified technologies in their clean energy standards.

Earlier in 2016 Fuel Cell’s Korean Partner Posco Energy backed away from their partnership and plans to manufacture and market Fuel Cell Energy fuel cells in Asia as the company ran into financial difficulties.

The setbacks virtually wiped out market value as the company’s stock dropped from $5.50 per share to the present day $1.55 within the past year.

The State of Connecticut helped start the healing process for the company that has headquarters in Danbury and manufacturing in Torrington when the legislature passed Public Act 17-144 - An Act Promoting the use of Fuel Cells for Electric Distribution System Benefits and Reliability.

The law allows utilities to purchase up to 30 mega watts of energy from fuel cells and includes a provision for the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) to issue an RFP for the procurement of clean energy with a focus on enhancing the reliability and resiliency of energy supply and in a manner that promotes in-state economic development.