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Bridgeport Lawmakers Continue Push For Thermal Heat Loop

Anthony Moaton
The Wheelabrator trash-to-energy plant in Bridgeport, Conn.

Despite a veto from Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy, state lawmakers from Bridgeport are continuing to push for a thermal heating loop in the city. The loop would run underground, and provide steam to heat downtown buildings from several sources including the city’s waste-to-energy plant.

Former Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch came up with the idea. And current Mayor Joe Ganim wants it to happen. He says that heating bills would be cut and other businesses would be attracted to move to Bridgeport.

But Governor Dannel Malloy vetoed the bill earlier this year. He said that the project was “commendable,” but that there was a lack of consumer protection or regulatory oversight.

Dennis Schain, spokesman for the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection which would regulate such a project, said, “Our key concern with this project, as is the governor’s and clearly stated in his veto message, is the cost of the power. What they were proposing was more costly than other power we’ve been able to procure. And you know, at a time when we’re working to bring down the cost of electricity for people, we don’t wanna take steps that, you know, raise the cost of power.”

State Representative Steven Stafstrom of Bridgeport still supports the thermal loop project.

“A project like this that would provide cheaper energy and heating costs in downtown Bridgeport, would give Bridgeport that strategic advantage to go out and market to a developer, and we think would help spur development in the downtown. Besides from that, the project is also projected to generate $2.8 million in tax revenue, which certainly the city could desperately use.”

Stafstrom and the city’s other legislators would like to work with the Malloy administration to find a way to revive the project.

Anthony Moaton is a former fellow at WSHU.