Connecticut has paid $7.3 million for a natural gas power plant in Hartford to heat and cool more than a dozen buildings, saying the acquisition will save money and improve energy efficiency.
The sale was initially proposed in legislation that passed the state House of Representatives in April but died in the Senate. It was included in a budget implementer bill that details the annual spending plan and includes measures that failed during the legislative session.
The Department of Administrative Services projects savings of more than $20 million in 20 years over the current contract to purchase energy from the Hartford site, a natural gas plant with fuel oil as back up stored on site.
The purchase was made despite an executive order by Gov. Ned Lamont in 2019 requiring the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to analyze and recommend strategies to achieve a 100% zero carbon target for the electric sector by 2040.
He pledged to “see to it that Connecticut remains a national leader on climate action.”
Connecticut also is spending about $250 million to upgrade the State Pier in New London as a staging area to assemble wind turbines headed to the Atlantic Ocean.
A spokesman said the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection did not take a position on the purchase.
The Capital City Energy Center pays about $260,000 in property taxes annually.
Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin said in a statement he understands the state’s “desire to own and control a utility that’s important to a number of state buildings,” but has concerns it takes a “taxpaying asset off the tax rolls.”
The Capitol Area District Heating and Cooling System is a state-owned thermal energy supply system with two closed loop distribution systems, hot water and chilled water, and a pump house, according to the Department of Administrative Services.
More than 3 miles of underground pipes deliver hot and chilled water to 10 state-owned buildings and five privately owned buildings in the Capitol District, including the Legislative Office Building, Supreme Court, State Office Building, Armory and Bushnell Performing Arts Center.
Michelle Gillman, commissioner of the Department of Administrative Services, said in an emailed statement the purchase of the 490 Capital Ave. building from CDECCA Property Co. LLC will likely decrease long-term costs, improve energy efficiency and “provide us full autonomy to address our needs.”
She told a legislative committee in March that an agreement to purchase the plant was in place and all that was required to move forward was legislative approval.
A spokesman for House Speaker Matt Ritter and Sen. Mae Flexer, co-chair of the legislature’s Government Administration and Elections, did not respond to requests for comment.
Stephen Singer can be reached at email@example.com.