The nation needs to diversify how it produces its energy, reducing the dependence on fossil fuels and particularly foreign oil. Connecticut has set a goal of having 20 percent of its energy come from renewable sources by 2020. Given those priorities and goals there should be a way to make a biomass power plant proposed by NRG Energy Inc. at its Montville facility a reality.
On Thursday a broad coalition of political, labor and business leaders announced the formation of RenewMontville.org, which will work towards making the $100 million project a reality. The project would convert an oil- and gas-fired unit to a biomass plant capable of pumping out 40 megawatts of electricity. Supplemented with natural gas, the plant could produce twice that power, enough to supply about 80,000 homes.
The plant would burn clean wood, supplied through a managed foresting operation that would plant new trees at a pace to replace those used to produce energy, supplying a renewable power source. It would mean jobs converting and operating the plant and maintaining the wood supply. It would also move the NRG operation into the future, keeping it viable for years to come.
The alternative is to run the risk that NRG will one day conclude its oil- and coal-fired units are no longer profitable and Montville could see the loss of another major taxpayer, following the recent closing of the coal-fired AES Thames plant. Montville Mayor Ronald K. McDaniel Jr. deserves credit for taking a proactive stance in trying to prevent that from happening.
The major hurdle appears to be securing a contract for the future energy the new unit would produce, a revenue stream necessary to line up financing. While that contract will be between two private parties, we urge the governor's office and Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Daniel Esty to do what they can to expedite the process.
This project makes too much sense not to get it done.