By Brad Kane
Hartford Business Journal
A 20-year, $300 million secretive state program designed to bolster the struggling Connecticut fuel cell industry instead awarded nearly all its money this year to a California firm, public disclosures show.
The Connecticut General Assembly in 2011 created the Low-emissions Renewable Energy Credit (LREC) program to subsidize fuel cell installations. It was assumed Connecticut companies — FuelCell Energy in Danbury and ClearEdge Power in South Windsor — would win the contracts, as the program favored in-state technology.
“It absolutely was designed to help the Connecticut fuel cell industry,” said Lee Hoffman, partner with Hartford law firm Pullman & Comley and member of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s energy task forces.
Instead, nearly all the $60 million first round went to Bloom Energy of Sunnyvale, Calif., according to records unsealed in August after Hartford Business Journal’s Freedom of Information Act request.
Bloom won 12 LREC contracts, valued at $35.4 million. By comparison, FuelCell Energy won one $13 million contract, and UTC Power came up empty. UTC Power had a deal with West Hartford manufacturer Legrand North America for a fuel cell that won a $4.4 million award. After Clearedge Power purchased UTC in February, Legrand withdrew from the deal.
“Bloom just beat out the other guys. It isn’t any more complicated than that,” Hoffman said.