SOUTH WINDSOR, CT - Highlighting the benefits of a comprehensive energy strategy unveiled last week, Governor Dannel P. Malloy today toured Carla’s Pasta, Inc. in South Windsor and cited it as a Connecticut business that is growing and expanding on the strength of innovative steps to address energy costs.
“Carla’s Pasta is a perfect example of the economic growth we can achieve by working with businesses to rein in energy costs,” Governor Malloy said. “By installing a fuel cell to generate on-site power and completing energy efficiency measures, Carla’s cut costs for electricity, improved its bottom line and is now preparing to open expanded pasta production facilities that will create more than 100 new jobs in the next two years.”
The Governor continued, “This is exactly the formula recommended by my energy strategy. By offering businesses attractive new energy options – such as natural gas or alternative energy – and by focusing on efficiency we can reduce energy costs, put more people to work, and rebuild our economy.”
Last Friday, Governor Malloy released a draft comprehensive energy strategy for Connecticut that will create jobs, give residents and businesses more choice about the fuels they use for heat and power, lower energy costs and better protect the environment and natural resources.
Key components of the plan include: making a lower-cost natural gas option available to more than 250,000 residents and 75% of businesses in the next seven years, and expanding efficiency programs to help residents and businesses reduce energy use. In addition, the plan will also reexamine the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standards – which currently calls for 20% renewable power by 2020 – with an eye toward both raising the standard and increasing the mix of renewable options. Combined, the strategy is expected to generate at least 10,000 jobs.
The strategy announced by the Governor is a draft that is now being offered for public comment.
Carla’s Pasta, Inc. produces frozen pasta products distributed nationally to restaurants, institutions and supermarkets. The company was founded in 1978 by Carla Squatrito, who began producing homemade pasta at a small shop in Manchester. Carla’s currently employees 147 people at a major production facility in South Windsor – where a new 26,000 square foot wing is under construction for expanded production facilities, freezer space and administrative offices.
“It takes a tremendous amount of energy to make pasta and our plant is running virtually around the clock,” said Sergio Squatrito, vice president of operations at Carla’s. “With the support of state economic development agencies, we were able to purchase a fuel cell to meet our base load demands for electricity and by working with CL&P we have taken steps to address energy efficiency. Both efforts are reducing our costs and freeing up capital to invest in business expansion.”
In December 2011, Carla’s went on line with a 300-kilowatt fuel cell power plant manufactured by FuelCell Energy Inc. of Danbury, Conn. Carla’s was able to purchase the fuel cell with the support of a bridge loan from the Connecticut Development authority, a grant from the then Connecticut Clean Energy Fund (now the Connecticut Finance and Investment Authority), and a federal grant made available through the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The fuel cell meets the company’s base load demand for electricity at a cost much less per kilowatt hour than power secured from the grid. It also provides electricity for critical functions – such as storage freezers – in the event of a power outage.
With a Combined Heat and Power (CHP) system, Carla’s is also able to use heat created by the fuel cell as a byproduct of producing electricity to operate cooking equipment. The fuel cell is producing 213MWh per month of electricity and 250,000 lbs. of steam. It is also reducing emissions (eGrid data) by reducing CO2 by 40,000 lbs. per month and NOx reduced by 3,600 lbs. per month. This results in additional energy cost savings and a cleaner source. The unit is meeting expectations and will be paid back in two years.
Over the past few years, Carla’s has also taken steps to reduce energy demand through efficiency programs. Among the steps taken are installation of motion sensors for lighting; more efficient lighting in warehouse areas; more modern and efficient freezing techniques; and a new Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system.