In the four years since Bruce Becker opened his groundbreaking apartment building at 360 State Street in New Haven, its most ground-breaking element – a clean-energy, 400-kilowatt fuel cell that can meet nearly all the building’s electricity needs — has been running at half power.
“We’re not being allowed to serve the apartments with the fuel cell,” Becker said. “We’re just supplying power to the common areas.”
Essentially, that’s because the state Public Utilities Regulatory Authority is still trying to figure out whether regulations allow him to sell power from the fuel cell to residents of the 500 individual apartments. While PURA has been pondering that, 360 State has become one of several poster children for what many state officials, clean-energy advocates, and even members of the business community believe is Connecticut’s broken utility system.
They contend it is mired in a 1930s business model in which electricity is distributed from a central source. The more sold, the greater the profit. And even though the state’s two utilities are now deregulated and their revenues don’t rely on the amount of electricity sold – they still are likely to view projects like the one at 360 State as threats.
“The project’s been penalized for being forward thinking,” Becker said. For full article.