Gov. Malloy Vetoes Bridgeport Green Energy Bill

Jul 13, 2017

Governor Dannel Malloy has vetoed a green energy proposal spearheaded by the city of Bridgeport. The project would have created an underground heating system in one portion of the city.

It’s called a “thermal loop” -- a system of underground pipes, which capture waste heat from power generators and feed it into connected buildings -- so they can avoid using fuels like natural gas or oil.

Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim’s predecessor, Bill Finch, introduced the idea.

A similar proposal failed a state-run bidding process in 2016, but the idea was resurrected in a bill this session. It passed the General Assembly, but didn’t win Malloy over.

In a veto message released this week, Malloy wrote the proposal was "commendable," but said it avoids proper regulatory oversight or a competitive bidding process.

Bridgeport also wanted to build a fuel cell to power part of the project, which Malloy said would be paid for by ratepayers “with no guarantee that the thermal loop will be built” or that it would have enough customers.

"We wanted to do this as a pilot program," said Joe Gresko, a state representative who also works for the city of Bridgeport. "It's kind of disappointing, at the very end, to have the veto come through."

Gresko said he doesn't think there's a chance the legislature will override the veto, but said the city will work on getting the thermal loop idea built into the budget implementer bill.

If that fails, he's hopeful the project could be submitted through an upcoming bidding process for energy projects.

In his veto, Malloy noted the project was proposed during an energy procurement process conducted by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection last year, "but failed to be selected because it would have cost ratepayers much more than competing proposals."

Gresko said any benefits to ratepayers "would have to be over time."

"Fuel cell energy that's created is more expensive," he said, noting the technology is popular in Denmark. NuPower Thermal, a Danish company, was the city's proposed developer for the project.

In May, Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim visited Denmark to tout Bridgeport's thermal loop project

"This is nothing special over there, they do it all the time," Gresko said. "So he went over there to get a better handle on just how it functions and how people over there rely on it." 

This post was updated with Joe Gresko's comments.