UB Announces Fuel Cell Energy Deal

What does Mayor Bill Finch, the city’s resident Mr. Green Jeans, think about this? News release from University of Bridgeport.

The University of Bridgeport and FuelCell Energy, a leading provider of highly efficient and virtually pollutant-free fuel cell power plants, have reached an agreement to generate electricity on campus with a fuel cell that will slash carbon emissions by 7,000 tons a year–equivalent to taking 1,220 vehicles off the road annually.

Under the agreement signed on April 28, FuelCell Energy (FCE) will install, own, and operate the 1.4 megawatt fuel cell power plant next to Wheeler Recreation Center for 12 years and will sell electricity to UB in order to heat and power campus buildings.

UB will save an estimated $3.5 million in energy costs over that time period, according to a cost analysis examined by energy consulting firm van Zelm Engineers.

Specifically, the fuel cell at UB will generate electricity using natural gas and will be connected to the campus power grid. At the same time, the cell’s exhaust heat will generate hot water for Wheeler Recreation Center and its pool, the University Place Apartments, and Schine Hall, where it will offset natural gas consumed in heating and air conditioning in those buildings.

The deal also includes an Academic Collaboration Agreement, under which FCE will work with faculty, staff, and students to track, monitor, and evaluate the fuel cell’s performance. Students will have access to FCE facilities for learning tours and internships opportunities.

“Sustainable and affordable energy is an increasingly important component of the new energy mix at the University of Bridgeport,” said UB President Neil Albert Salonen. “Our Renewable Energy Research Lab evaluates technologies in energy conversion, utilization, and storage in fuel cells, solar, wind, and hybrid systems. This living lab is motivated by the strong need to prepare the next generation of inter-disciplinary engineers who have a comprehensive background in sustainable energy, and this fuel cell installation will help us achieve our goals by enabling us to practice what we teach.”

Since 2008, UB has reduced its energy use and made substantial savings by upgrading the campus electrical grid, installing high-efficiency boilers, insulated roofing systems, energy-efficiency windows, and making LED and induction lighting retrofits throughout campus.

“We are pleased to be providing the University of Bridgeport with an on-site power generation solution that meets their financial returns and sustainability goals and enhances campus energy security,” said Chip Bottone, President and Chief Executive Officer, FuelCell Energy, Inc. “Universities are ideal candidates for our ultra-clean and efficient fuel cell power plants due to their power usage profile that requires baseload power, desire for sustainable power generation, need for energy security, and demand for reliability that on-site power generation provides.”

Fuel cells convert chemical energy from hydrogen-rich fuels, such as renewable bio gas or natural gas, into electrical power and usable high quality heat in an electrochemical process that is virtually absent of pollutants.

Similar to a battery, a fuel cell is comprised of many individual cells that are grouped together to form a fuel cell stack. Each individual cell contains an anode, a cathode, and an electrolyte layer. When clean natural gas or renewable biogas enters the fuel cell stack, it reacts electrochemically with oxygen to produce electric current, heat, and water. While a typical battery has a fixed supply of energy, fuel cells continuously generate electricity as long as fuel is supplied.



  1. Well isn’t this great? University of Bridgeport announcing a GREEN project with a fuel cell installation. Clean, efficient, sustainable and less expensive energy sources is a pursuit in many quarters today. What I especially like about the announcement is the Collaboration Agreement that will allow various campus stakeholders to work with, study and comment upon various aspects. That creates a more OPEN and TRANSPARENT environment for learning and future development.
    My mind often moves into a “compare and contrast” mode, and that is only natural with the City hoopla about fuel cell installations. I am curious as to what a spreadsheet of the several installations might look like today. Assuming future improvements there is a good prospect for good news for a long time into the future.
    One question comes to mind promptly: “Which project has the largest installation?” Another: “Will Mayor Finch take this opportunity to salute this UB effort as part of our Green Community, ignore it, or will he turn Green with envy? Good news is good news, isn’t it? Time will tell.

  2. Thank You UB for being in the forefront of this type of green effort. Wow, UB keeps helping the city, now it’s time for this mayor to acknowledge UB and move on.

  3. Steven Auerbach, where is your guy Mayor Finch on this University of Bridgeport with an on-site power generation solution that meets their financial returns and sustainability goals and enhances campus energy security, where is his voice and face?

    1. OMG Ron Mackey, I didn’t even make a comment and you are talking to me as though you think you are insulting me calling Finch my guy? That’s like Marilyn Moore calling Anthony Musto my boy. This is obviously great news for UB. Why is the University commended but the Mayor’s environmental concerns are belittled?

      1. Steven Auerbach, by no means am I trying to insult you, that was not my intent. You asked, “Why is the University commended but the Mayor’s environmental concerns are belittled?” The question should be why has Mayor Finch NOT come out and thanked UB for their effort to do what Mayor Finch’s environmental concerns are. Finch is showing very poor leadership by turning his back on University of Bridgeport.

        1. Ron Mackey, no hard feelings. I agree. However, I believe Mayor Finch will piss off his adversaries and show respect for the graduating class of 2014 and Governor Malloy, by showing up with an entourage at the University of Bridgeport’s commencement. I really believe he will. I believe the Connecticut Post will make it front-page news and the Mayor, the University and the City win. If not, I’ll be disappointed and will not utter his name again. I know the anti-Finch people on the blog would love that.

          1. Steven Auerbach, a real man will do what you wrote but not Mayor Finch, he is still looking for Rev. Moon. Finch is too petty and cannot admit he is wrong about UB.

  4. You guys are so cynical you can’t give the Finch administration credit for creating an atmosphere for trying something “green.”

    I would think the mayor would applaud the initiative if he can get over mouthing the letters “UB.” I admit he might choke there. Better keep someone who knows the Heimlich maneuver around.

    Looking at it as a practical political matter, I don’t see how the mayor can oppose it after pushing the fuel cell plant in the West End and the UI proposal at Seaside. I don’t see why he would want to oppose it.

  5. Jim come on, you do sound like a present-day CT Post reporter aka Finchite!!! Mayor Finch won’t oppose it but he won’t give credit where credit is due.


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