CT startup chooses Bridgeport FD for first battery that allows electricity to be saved for later use

The Connecticut Post

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As the city of Bridgeport works to remain the staging hub for any future wind farms, on Tuesday officials marked a smaller, but still significant energy milestone — a storage battery for the Bridgeport Fire Department that will allow the facility to sock away electricity for later use when rates are at peak prices.

This is the first installation for storage battery developer Cadenza Innovations in its home state of Connecticut, where it has headquarters in Danbury under CEO Christina Lampe-Onnerud. The company designed its system so that many batteries can be linked together modularly for the power needs of any facility, from homes to large commercial structures requiring utility-scale power.

In addition to providing hours of backup power during outages, the batteries can also provide electricity during stretches when strains on the grid intensify. Building owners can then qualify for “demand response” incentives from utilities by switching over the battery power.

At the outset, Cadenza focused on utility-scale battery arrays, with the New York Power Authority among the entities to have tested the technology. Lampe-Onnerud told CT Insider on Tuesday the company now plans to compete with Tesla and other residential storage battery makers in addition to making commercial-grade arrays. She has installed a Cadenza battery in her own Wilton home.

Acting Fire Chief Lance Edwards said he is convinced Cadenza’s lithium battery technology does not pose a fire risk, which he said was the foremost consideration in the Bridgeport Fire Department agreeing to the test installation.

“Their batteries are 100-percent safe,” Edwards said.

Cadenza has eyed building a battery manufacturing plant in Ulster, N.Y., but has yet to announce any firm commitment there or elsewhere. On Tuesday morning, Bridgeport City Councilor Aidee Nieves expressed the hope that Cadenza might consider Bridgeport as a manufacturing alternative.

Earlier this month, Bridgeport lost a major renewable energy manufacturing hub of sorts, after Orange-based Avangrid pulled out of the Park City Wind farm that it planned to build off the southern New England Coast. Bridgeport was to have been the staging ground for the project. On Tuesday, the first ship was preparing to depart New London with massive components, bound for the South Fork Wind project Orsted is installing that will generate electricity for New York.

“It’s somewhat disappointing as to where we are right now,” Major Joe Ganim said of the Avangrid decision.

Bridgeport has another large, energy installation manufactured in Connecticut — a fuel cell power plant just west of downtown built by FuelCell Energy based in Danbury. The facility’s fuel cells strip electrons from hydrogen to produce an electric current. FuelCell manufactures the devices in Torrington.

“We continue to be open to — and then to push ourselves — in a way that hopefully places us at the top as one of the leaders in sustainability,” Ganim said Tuesday. “We have 150,000 people here. We know the impact of our carbon footprint. Reducing it — or not — impacts even many more than that.”