Manresa Island in Norwalk, CT is home to a decommissioned coal and oil plant and is flooded with natural resources and contains an abundance of biodiversity. The island is composed of two parcels, North and South, with 92 acres of filled in wetlands and 46 acres for the power plant and other structures, respectively. NRG Energy purchased Manresa Island from Connecticut Light & Power in 1999, and ever since has been enrolled in the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (CT DEEP).
Many decisions are yet to be made on the future of Manresa Island. The leading consideration, which is not yet part of the discussion, is the new law adopted by the Connecticut Legislature, S.B.9, concerning greenhouse gas emissions targets of 45% below 2001 levels by 2030. The new law also mandates that 40% of the states electricity comes from renewable sources by 2030. The Fitzgerald and Halliday report refers to 12 of the 46 shorefront acres being used for solar array, producing 2.5 megawatts, which would power 400 homes.
In order for Norwalk, the surrounding towns, and Fairfield County to meet the demands of the new legislation, consideration should be given to the 92 remaining acres for a solar array producing 5.0 megawatts or more that could possibly power thousands of homes.
As a member of the Manresa Association, we are committed to advocating for this solar energy facility.
A Note From our President:
As you are very much aware the temperature rise, not only locally and nationally, but globally, is causing great human and natural disasters. Who knows where next?
We all do know that the burning of fossil fuels and the carbon in the air is very much responsible for the heating up of our planet.
Here we have a very small but unique opportunity to make a contribution to renewing a healthier planet.
Please let us have your thoughts, but most important, your action
THE FUTURE OF MANRESA ISLAND, NORWALK, CONNECTICUT
NGO Sustainability, in Consultative Status with the United Nations, is dedicated to promoting sustainable development and renewable energy. The organization works out of Norwalk, Connecticut, a city which is adopting sustainable practices to benefit not only the economy but also the community and ecosystem. Manresa Island is a prime example of an opportunity the city has to protect Planet Earth and produce clean, healthy, sustainable energy to the local community.
Manresa Island is the site of a decommissioned coal and oil burning power plant, wherein lies a lot of potential for improving the lives of Connecticut citizens. The island is composed of 125 available acres, including highly polluted filled in wetlands and 46 acres where the power plant and associated buildings are located. NRG Energy bought the facility in 1999. When the plant was decommissioned in 2013, an opportunity emerged to turn a fossil fuel power plant into one that benefits the community and the planet—a renewable energy solar array.
Other Connecticut cities have seen the need to invest in the state’s future in a similar manner. A former dump-site in Seaside Park, Bridgeport, is now an 11 acre solar farm. This solar field is among the largest solar installations in Connecticut, providing clean and affordable energy for over 300 homes. The Seaside project took an unfortunately situated waste site and transformed it into a beautiful and productive area for the people of Bridgeport.
The immediate and long term impact on life in Fairfield County needs to be considered when planning the future of Manresa Island, which is why a solar array not only on 12 of the waterfront acres but also on part of the 92 northern contaminated acres of the island would be a viable objective. Connecticut continues to have ambitious emissions reduction goals, most recently with the S.B. 9 legislation. The new law adopts a greenhouse gas emissions target of 45% below 2001 levels by 2030, and also mandates that 40% of the state’s electricity come from renewable sources by 2030. Now this ambitious new law must be translated into action. Power plants are the largest contributors to climate change in the U.S.. By transforming Manresa Island into a solar array, it can try to offset and combat the damage that has been done over the years.
To fulfill this new legislation we should opt for a 5MW+ station by using both the Southern and Northern Parcels, serving possibly thousands of residents with clean energy and allowing the excess to be sold back into the grid. Eliminating the current structures and implementing a solar array would satisfy NRG’s, the current owner of the Island, Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) criteria as well as Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), their implementation of the United Nations Global Compact Principles to which they have adhered and also meet Manresa Association’s objectives for the environmental safety of the property for humans and creatures, open space and physical beauty. Manresa Island is the key in the transition to provide solar energy to meet our present day needs in a sustainable, reliable, clean and healthy way.
Though ambitious in policy, Connecticut falls short in the movement towards renewable energy. The Solar Foundation reports that Connecticut’s solar industry companies accounted for one of every 1,655 jobs statewide which is below the national rate of one solar job for every 1,300 jobs nationally. Connecticut made the top 10 for only one out of 11 categories studied by the Solar Foundation, falling just behind New Jersey in the category of schools in the Northeast converting to solar energy. According to the American Lung Association, Fairfield, CT is ranked 19 in the 25 Most Ozone-Polluted Counties and received an F grade for its high ozone days between 2014-2016. Converting to solar power would be an influential step towards combating the effects of climate change posing threats to the community and would also provide necessary jobs in the sector.
Solar power is clean energy and the key to a 21st century solution for Norwalk and the surrounding community. Coal emits 2.1 pounds of CO2 per kilowatt hour of power produced, natural gas emits 1.2 pounds and solar power produces no carbon emissions. The cost of fuel constantly fluctuates and may not always be readily available to generate the electricity needed. The sun is a natural power source that needs to be harnessed for the betterment and sustainability of our planet. Tax dollars will be saved by having a more efficient way of powering residential communities and remediation costs for the island will be reduced due to the fact that only 2 feet of clean soil is needed to construct a solar array on polluted areas.
The responsibility for Connecticut’s renewable energy progress has moved past local action. Business, government and the community must together ignite the change needed to push Connecticut past the 40% goal line. Using Manresa Island is the perfect opportunity to turn a highly polluted region into a sustainable, money saving, job creating energy facility, while meeting the new legislation and improving the quality of life for Fairfield County residents.