Today, Congressman John B. Larson joined Senator Richard Blumenthal and Senator Chris Murphy in announcing a $100,000 U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Business Enterprise grant for the non-for-profit Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology (CCAT), based in East Hartford, Conn. The grant will be used to help determine the feasibility of alternative fuel plants in north-central Connecticut.
"Ending our dependency on foreign oil is an essential part of strengthening economic growth nationally and in Connecticut," said Larson. "This study will help determine the best path forward for energy independence in an area that encompasses a large number of homes, vehicles and aerospace industries currently relying heavily on imported oil. I am pleased to see this funding coming to Connecticut and will be watching this study closely in the coming months."
"This grant is a win-win for Connecticut, providing funding to identify ways to grow jobs and improve energy independence through creation of an alternative fuels facility in rural North-Central Connecticut. Such a facility could provide as many as 150 permanent jobs, taking advantage of existing sustainable energy sources, including municipal solid waste and biomass. I applaud the USDA for investing in this important study, and look forward to seeing positive results in the near future," said Blumenthal.
"If we're serious about putting an end to our dependence on foreign oil, we need to build the types of alternative energy plants CCAT hopes to work on," said Murphy. "USDA funding will help CCAT determine if one of these plants can be built in a part of Connecticut where there's a heavy dependence on foreign oil and a need to shift to alternative sources of energy. I'm thrilled USDA will be supporting this study, and I look forward to hearing about its results."
CCAT is well-positioned to spearhead the study. The organization is currently leading several significant alternative fuel efforts-- a $20 million, five-year coal/biomass to fuel program that tests technologies critical to creating alternative fuels from biomass and fossil sources for the U.S. Defense Logistics Agency; the Connecticut State biodiesel program for the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD); and regional collaborations to advance hydrogen fuel cell usage.
"CCAT will leverage the knowledge we've gained from these ongoing programs and our research expertise in alternative fuels to foster the success of this feasibility study," said Elliot Ginsberg, president and chief executive officer, CCAT. "We recognize the value of this study not only to help further economic development within Connecticut and the region but also to impact renewable energy production nationwide."
CCAT is partnering with alternative fuel industry leaders to conduct the study. Solena, a sustainable energy firm headquartered in Washington, D.C., is developing facilities around the world to produce sustainable, non-petroleum sourced jet and diesel fuels. Fiberight, a leading edge clean technology company based in Catonsville, Maryland, focuses on transforming post-recycled municipal solid wastes and other organic feedstocks into next generation renewable biofuels.
"The development of advanced renewable fuel holds tremendous potential to create jobs and grow the economy, particularly across rural America," said Todd Campbell, special assistant for energy programs, USDA Rural Development. "USDA has prioritized efforts to strengthen the biobased economy, and today's award to CCAT builds on record efforts under the Obama Administration to develop an 'all-of-the-above' energy strategy for our nation."
In March, Larson, Blumenthal and Murphy wrote a letter to Jay Healy, State Director for USDA Rural Development, in support of the grant. Future alternative fuel plants could increase North-Central Connecticut's energy independence while supporting job growth in the area. The study of implementing an alternative fuels facility in north-central Connecticut will ultimately determine the economic and operational feasibility of alternative fuel plants, including biomass that can be grown and harvested in the rural region surrounding north-central Connecticut and municipal solid waste, in the area.