U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and U.S. Rep. John Larson, D-1,were in a celebratory mood Wednesday.
So were representatives of the state’s fuel cell industry.
The reason for the celebration was the inclusion of investment tax credits for the industry in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, which was passed last week.
Investment tax credits for fuel cells had been left out of the 2015 extension of the incentives, which gave an unfair advantage to the solar and wind power industries, according to Joel Rinebold, director of the Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology. Larson visited the East Hartford-based nonprofit organization, the mission of which includes promoting new energy technologies and economic development.
“Thank you for leadership and your persistence,” Rinebold told Larson.
Larson told CCAT officials the importance of Connecticut’s fuel cell industry can not be over-stated. The industry employs about 3,000 people in the state and brings in about $600 million in technology investment and revenues to fuel cell companies based in the state.
“We don’t devote enough attention and we don’t invest enough as a government in fuel cells,” Larson said. “Products that are made here in Connecticut advance our economy and solutions to the world’s energy problems. This (industry) has vast potential and promoting efforts to get these tax credits has been a labor of love for me.”
Larson met with representatives of Danbury-based FuelCell Energy and Doosan Fuel Cell America, a subsidiary of a South Korean company that has a factory in South Windsor.
While Larson was in East Hartford, Blumenthal went to the FuelCell Energy’s Torrington manufacturing plant to tour the facility and celebrate the investment tax credits. Blumenthal called the credits “a major victory for Connecticut jobs and clean energy.”
“These incentives will allow companies such as FuelCell Energy to continue innovating and developing clean and efficient energy technology that will have a long standing impact on both our economy and our environment,” Blumenthal said in a statement.
Investment tax credits can be bought and sold, which lowers the overall cost of fuel cell projects and also attracts investments into companies that are in the industry.
Larson said CCAT plays a key role in promoting Connecticut’s fuel cell industry to state and federal lawmakers.
“They help explain the importance of fuel cells, how they work and why the state and federal government need to come together to support this,” he said.
CCAT officials will be taking part in a forum with members of the Connecticut legislature Thursday at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford to do just that, Rinebold said. Connecticut lawmakers and the state agencies crafting energy policies have missed opportunities in the past to support the state’s fuel cell industry, he said.
“I can’t explain why we would make decisions that support energy resources that are deployed out of state,” Rinebold said. “You should be supporting the industry that has roots in this state. This is an issue we need to address: If we continue to miss these opportunities to help out, these companies will move to different locations.”