Dominion, a large energy company based in Virginia, and FuelCell Energy Inc. (FCE), a Connecticut manufacturer of fuel cell power plants, have announced that they will be developing the largest fuel cell power plant in North America. Located in Bridgeport, Conn., the plant will use a clean-tech process to transform natural gas into electricity. The 14.9 megawatt facility will produce enough electricity for about 15,000 homes delivered through a local micro-grid.

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The $125 million Dominion Bridgeport Fuel Cell project is part of the state of Connecticut’s Project 150, a program designed to increase renewable and clean energy projects in the state by 150 megawatts. The program brings together private and public funds through the state’s Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority (CEFIA) to support development of clean energy projects. The City of Bridgeport is also providing tax incentives to support the fuel cell project. The Connecticut Light & Power Company (CL&P) will buy the electricity under a 15-year purchase agreement.

Dominion, through its subsidiary Dominion Bridgeport Fuel Cell LLC, is contracting FuelCell Energy to build, operate, and maintain the plant. FCE will supply five of its top-of-the-line 2.8 megawatt DFC3000s fuel cell plants. Construction is to begin immediately, and the facility is scheduled to go into operation in 2013.

FCE’s DFC3000 operates at a very high 47 percent efficiency, according to the company. A company announcement says that fuel cells generate “ultra-clean” power “electrochemically, without combustion.” Fuel cell generation emits dramatically lower levels of pollutants such as nitrogen oxide (NOx), sulfur dioxide (SOx) and particulate matter. Fuel cell technology lends itself to distributed generation, which places power generation close to the point of use, reducing “the need for electric utilities to invest in costly and difficult to site transmission and distribution grids,” according to FCE.

Dominion CEO Thomas F. Farrell said in a company announcement that Dominion is “adding fuel cell technology to our energy portfolio that already includes wind, hydro, biomass and, soon, solar.” Dominion owns wind farms in West Virginia and Indiana, a biomass power plant in Virginia, and hydroelectric power stations in Virginia and North Carolina. The company recently initiated a pilot project to test solar-power generation on rooftops leased from commercial and industrial firms.

Illustration courtesy of Dominion; Photos show various projects by FuelCell Energy.

+ Dominion

+ FuelCell Energy Inc.