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Monday, November 19 Business

FuelCell Energy applauds reinstatement of fuel cell incentives

DANBURY - The fuel cell industry received a lift last week as the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 reinstated the federal fuel cell investment tax credit.

Fuel cells were left out of the 2015 tax credit extension in favor of wind and solar energy.

The reinstatement drew praise from FuelCell Energy, a Danbury-based manufacturer of fuel cells.

“This bi-partisan bill is a smart investment for America’s economy, environment, energy reliability and objectivity in the energy industry,” Chip Bottone, CEO of FuelCell Energy said. “It levels the playing field for American fuel cell manufacturers, enabling us to continue bringing value to the economy by providing ultra-clean, efficient fuel cell solutions.”

Bottone said the incentives create jobs, encourage innovation and have a track record of driving clean energy investments.

Fuel cell power plants offer high-power density with little footprint and are often used in areas of high need power need with little space available, such as urban settings. FuelCell Energy plants may be found in places such as universities and military bases.

Also last week, the Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Energy Association praised lawmakers for reinstating the investment tax credit.

“On behalf of America’s 10,000 fuel cell and hydrogen industry workers, scientists, and innovators, we thank Leader Mitch McConnell and Charles Schumer for moving forward with this bipartisan deal and righting this wrong,” Morry Markowitz, president of the FCHEA, said in a statement. “We also thank the Senators Dean Heller and Tom Carper and Representatives Tom Reed and Patrick Meehan, who sponsored legislation to address the ITC issue.”

Fuel cells generate predictable power and emit very little pollution. Bottone said the investment tax credit should spur market expansion and enhance the economic profile of his company’s projects.

"Complementing renewable energy sources, fuel cells are the cleanest, lowest emission power source on the market today enabling sustainability concepts to be put into practice,” Bottone said. “Reinstatement of these incentives is good public policy that supports U.S. manufacturing jobs.”

FuelCell Energy is based in Danbury and has a manufacturing facility in Torrington.

Last month, FuelCell Energy reported total revenues for 2017 fourth quarter of $47.9 million, up from $24.5 million for the fourth quarter of 2016, with product sales totaling $39.9 million.

Bottone expressed optimism for 2018 when reporting the final numbers for 2017.

“We are well-positioned for delivering projects in 2018 supported by expanding backlog and announced project awards that exceed $1.6 billion,” he said.

In December, the company announced a breakthrough project in agreement with Toyota to build a carbon-negative power plant that will produce hydrogen for fuel cell electric vehicles. The plant, which will be installed and operated by FuelCell Energy at the Port of Long Beach in California, will also generate renewable power to be sold to the grid under a tariff program. The plant will be powered by renewable biogas.

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In October 2016, the fuel cell industry in Connecticut felt slighted by the state’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection in when no fuel cell projects were selected for long-term, state-run energy contracts. The 20-year power purchase agreements with United Illuminating and Eversource allow for a constant flow of revenue to finance projects. Solar and wind energy projects received all of the clean-power contracts.

cbosak@hearstmediact.com; 203-731-3338

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