Connecticut's energy regulator should require that Northeast Utilities, NStar develop biomass generation projects as a condition of proposed merger, says mayor of Montville, Connecticut, where NRG Energy's biomass project has stalled

LOS ANGELES , March 6, 2012 () – The mayor of Montville, Connecticut, wants the Connecticut energy regulator to require that Northeast Utilities and NStar develop biomass power generation projects as a condition of any approval of their proposed merger, reported The Day on March 6.

NRG Energy Inc.’s proposal to build a US$100-million biomass power plant in Montville has stalled, but the project is crucial to the town’s survival, said Mayor Ronald K. McDaniel Jr., in comments to the state’s Public Utilities Regulatory Authority.

New Jersey-based NRG has been unable to get the project off the ground because it can’t find a buyer for the power output, which would be 42 megawatts (MW) or as much as 82 MW if natural gas is used, The Day reported.

Hartford, Connecticut-based Northeast Utilities has proposed acquiring Boston-based NStar for $4.7 billion, creating New England’s largest utility, which would serve 3.5 million electric and gas customers. A final decision is expected on April 2.

The Public Utilities Regulatory Authority has the power to approve the merger with terms and conditions, said Dennis Schain, a spokesperson for the Dept. of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), which oversees the authority, reported The Day.

Similar mergers in Massachusetts and Maryland have been approved with a requirement that biomass projects be developed, and such projects would help meet a Connecticut mandate that 20% of energy come from renewable sources by 2020, said McDaniel.

NRG’s biomass proposal for Montville is “the most significant economic development project that I have on my desk to support,” said McDaniel in his comments on March 5, The Day reported.

The project’s approximately one-year building phase would create 75 to 150 construction jobs. The plant itself would offer 30 to 35 full-time jobs, and another 200 jobs would be created in forestry, logistics and shipping, according to NRG.

An air permit has been issued for the project by DEEP, and the Connecticut Siting Council gave its approval last year. NRG planned to address residents concerns about environmental and noise pollution through public hearings, reported The Day.

The primary source of this article is The Day, New London, Connecticut, on March 6, 2012.

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