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Weston's Fuel Cell Project Stalls

WESTON, Conn. — Words added to the "virtual net metering" legislation have stalled the town's fuel cell progress. Connecticut Light & Power told the town it would still be charged for transmission and delivery, Don Gary said during a Board of Selectmen meeting Thursday.

"CL&P is taking the position that even though virtual net metering passed, it doesn't affect them," said Gary. "It dealt with generation as opposed to the whole utility bill."

He said the project is on hold until the town determines the legislators' interpretation of the bill. He said the Department of Public Utility Control might not consider the project until February and four other schools are in the same position as Weston.

First Selectwoman Gayle Weinstein said she thought the selectmen would be referring the project to the Planning and Zoning Commission for an 8-24 review. "CL&P burst our bubble," said Weinstein. "The way [the bill is] written, it's really very murky."

The Weston Board of Education approved the project at its June 20 meeting, subject to a few contingencies. The 400-kW fuel cell would provide heat, electricity and hot water. Gary said it could save about 800 tons of carbon dioxide per year — which is equal to 160 acres of trees.

At the Board of Education meeting, Gary said the 30-foot by 8-foot by 8-foot fuel cell would be located next to Weston Middle School and the town would lease the property for 15 years. The United Technologies Co. was holding a $1 million grant from the Connecticut Clean Energy Fund until the virtual net metering bill passed. The grant can be used to build, install and maintain the fuel cell.

The Board of Education approved the placement of the fuel cell contingent upon: UTC receiving a $1 million grant for the project; the governor signing into law the legislation for net metering; the Weston Board of Education being satisfied by any terms and conditions for the project.

What do you think about the town leasing property for a fuel cell? Leave your comments below.

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