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Government

Will Ganim BGreen?

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Now that Bridgeport has a new mayor, the city’s efforts to transform itself into an environmental showpiece may be in jeopardy.

BGreen 2020 was an energy and environmental sustainability policy championed by former Mayor Bill Finch. It was introduced in 2010 and many of its projects have already been implemented.

But Finch lost the primary in the fall to Joe Ganim, and environmental policy wasn’t a major focus of Ganim’s campaign.

Reporter Jan Ellen Spiegel is with the Connecticut Mirror. She wrote an article about what it would mean for Bridgeport if Finch’s BGreen program is scrapped.

INTERVIEW EXCERPTS:

You spoke with the former mayor, Bill Finch, just before he left office. What did he have to say about his Green Policy legacy now that it’s in the hands of a new administration?

Well, Bill Finch wasn’t going to tell Joe Ganim what to do, but he had his own thoughts of what, if he were still in office, he would do. One of the projects is what he calls a thermal loop. What it does is takes waste heat from one of the newest of the fuel cells…and pumps it back to a downtown section to be turned into heat and hot water That, for instance, still requires some city approvals through zoning for digging up the streets and laying the pipes and getting everything approved because it will cause a mess. We don’t know what will happen with the Ganim administration and the city council on that.

There is the second train station which, considering Joe Ganim, before he was actually sworn in, actually showed up at a big event for that. Ganim’s pretty much on board for that. I think the state is pushing that to some degree. He would be pretty hard pressed to say no on that so that looks like it’s a go.

And the continuation of the Eco-Technology Park. It’s been a pretty good job creator. From what the folks in the business community say in the last 18 months alone has created the potential for about 400 jobs which, it’s been pointed out, for the city of Bridgeport is not nothing. That’s a lot of jobs.

From what he heard him say Finch did seem to be a little bit surprised that his administration was able to realize some of the BGreen projects. Here’s Finch talking about the fuel cell:

"If I told you when I first got elected we were going to build North America’s largest fuel cell in Bridgeport, everybody would have had a laugh or a yawn. But we did it. And I pinch myself sometimes because I can’t believe half of this stuff ever happened."

Fuel cells cost a lot of money. You have to be able to get people who are willing to do certain projects and then they’re able to get them financed. And in a city like Bridgeport, an area that not everybody wants to come into, something like a fuel cell, and remember Bridgeport’s now got 3, including what at this point is the largest fuel cell power plant in the country, when you’ve got people willing to take a risk on a city that has all kinds of problems, I think that’s where the 'pinch myself' comes in.

What do you think it would mean for the city of Bridgeport if these BGreen projects are stalled or stopped?

It would probably put them at some level of an economic disadvantage because this was creating jobs, it was creating income, and a number of environmental groups have come into work with these projects. These guys are fully aware that what they’ve been doing could have the plug pulled. And they’re trying to figure out a way…to keep momentum going and keep the projects going and find another way to make it more of a bottom up operation as opposed to a top down, and that’s probably the biggest change that Bridgeport is in for in terms of environmental stuff. Bill Finch was the point person. It all started from the Mayor’s office and worked its way down. That won’t happen anymore, at least as far as we know, so it’s going to be up to a lot of these groups, a lot of the people pushing these projects, to keep them alive.