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March, 2014 News from Connecticut's Central Coast:
Statewide- The 2013 Connecticut Comprehensive Energy Strategy (CES) lays the groundwork for 280,000 conversions to natural gas statewide by 2023, offering consumers the opportunity to adopt a cleaner fuel source and new efficient technology that will have a positive impact on wallets and emissions.
Southern Connecticut Gas (SCG) and Connecticut Natural Gas (CNG), sister corporations to electric utility, United Illuminating (part of UIL Holdings), serve 350,000 existing customers in 45 towns in Southern, Western and Central Connecticut, including the State’s three largest cities: New Haven, Bridgeport and Hartford. In 2013, SCG and CNG converted more than 13,500 customers, and are on target to complete the conversions of another 16,000 in 2014.
Connecticut is served by three interstate natural gas pipelines, which enables permeations Statewide. The $7-billion plan will add 900 miles of main.
The Connecticut Energy Efficiency Fund is a key partner, offering incentives for converting to natural gas to businesses and residents. While no public monies are underwriting conversions, gas-burning equipment can be financed in a myriad of ways, including low-interest loans or incremental payment business property tax and/or residential utility bills. The CES also allows for a one-time limited tax credit for converting customers.
Knowledge Box: Natural Gas
Natural Gas a natural occurring fossil fuel in a gaseous state; primarily methane. Though not renewable resource, it is considered a "clean energy alternative" with fewer emissions such as CO, CO2 or NO. Major finds in the United States have increased supply and lowered production and transportation costs . However, it is not without controversy. In particular, "fracking" - where high pressure forces fluids underground to break shale and rock to obtain deep depots- has been targeted as a source of greenhouse gases, water pollution and ground instability.
Currently, just 30-35% percent of Connecticut customers heat structures with gas – the main consumer use of the fuel, compared with 50% nationwide and 40% in broader New England. The growth of natural gas continues to positively impact the cost of electricity generation as well: 50% of the State’s electricity generation is now fueled by natural gas. It is expected that the initiative will bring almost 7000 jobs to the State to support infrastructure growth.
In March 2014, UIL Holdings announced a planned expansion into Pennsylvania with the purchase of the assets of Philadelphia Gas Works (PGW), the city-owned gas company in Philadelphia. The potential sale would increase access to supply and transit points for natural gas in the Northeast.
Rendering of Downtown Development
New Haven - At the end of 2013, the City of New Haven, home to Yale University, had a residential rental vacancy rate of 2.2 % - the absolute lowest in the country; where some 75% of the housing stock is rental. In the same year, Yale commenced construction on two additional residential colleges (dorms) which will grow the undergraduate student body 20%. Further, Yale New Haven Hospital assumed a second campus in town. At the same time, the hotel market was notably underserved though increased activity drew more people to the City.
As reported in the New York Times in February 2014, Montreal based developer LiveWork-LearnPlay, which once "turned up its nose" at working in the City, has rethought that decision with a $400-million mixed use redevelopment that will transform a now-empty 5-acre city block - once a center for commerce (and the former Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum, abutting the global Headquarters of the Knights of Columbus). It will reconnect New Haven’s famed neighborhoods, Yale, the medical center, Downtown, transportation arteries, and the train station. The project was spurred on by major revitalization in the City’s Downtown: a 500 unit high-rise at "360 State," the first major residential project in 20 years; the building of a new headquarters for Alexion Pharmaceuticals just past the site, and the $200-million Gateway Community College campus a few blocks away.
The yet-to-be-named development will have over 275,000 sq. ft. of specialty retail and commercial space, a high-end hotel and 1000 residential units of mixed-size and design, owned and rentals. The project will be built over 7 to 10 years.
Statewide - An initial $25 million fund to help manufacturers modernize, expand operations, train a workforce , develop and adopt new technologies was proposed by Governor Dannell Malloy before the start of the 2014 legislative session. Connecticut’s long and storied manufacturing industry, which includes aerospace and defense, medical devices, and other precision and additive manufacturing as well as pharmaceuticals, remains a hub of global expertise and innovation despite changing economies. However manufacturers and lawmakers aim to address challenges that manufacturers face, from Fortune 1000 corporations like United Technologies, to smaller supply chain partners, in meeting growing demand and continuing to be a center of excellence. The Advanced Manufacturing Fund would prioritize communities that are historic manufacturing hubs, but also aim to attract business.
Manufacturing represented 10.5% GSP, or about $24 billion in 2013. Connecticut is home to General Electric, United Technologies, Xerox, Praxair, Stanley Black and Decker, Pitney Bowes, Perkin Elmer, Hubbell and many more globally recognized manufactures.
Aerial view of Acorn Ridge, with New Haven beyond (Source: Acorn Ridge)
West Haven - Just outside New Haven and Yale, the Acorn Ridge site offers 117 acres of rare greenfield space just minutes from downtown and Yale University’s two campuses, medical center and a busy retail and commercial area. Acorn Ridge is natural wooded property with access to major state roadways (Route 34 and Route 1). It is minutes from Interstate 91 and 95. The site is pre-zoned and approved for approximately 1.2 million square feet of Mixed Use Development and could accommodate, Walking Trail, Lakes and Water Views, Helicopter Pad. It is a build-to -suit site. It is fiber Optic, DSL and Cable-ready and has underground utilities.
The property is located at 600 Derby Avenue, West Haven, CT. Click here for information.
Greater Hartford - Fresh off the second dual Men's and Women's NCAA Basketball Championship in ten years, The University of Connecticut’s rising star on the court is mimicked all over campus and at statewide satellite facilities. Now ranked 19th among the nation's Public Universities by U.S. News & World Reports in 2014, UCONN is part of the "Next Generation Connecticut", a $2-billion initiative to stimulate the State’s economic development through investments in STEM opportunities including innovation, education and research. Much of this is focused on UCONN and satellite campuses in Hartford and Stamford, which will hire several hundred staff and increase the student body by 6500 over ten years while overhauling and adding programs. To this end, the rural Storrs is embarking on longawaited development to bring business and housing to the "Storrs Center". Construction on two roads and four new neighborhoods are underway.
Bridgeport - Nearly two decades in the making, the development of Steel Point Harbor is underway. Bass Pro Shops has committed to build a 150,000 sq. ft. retail store on the Bridgeport waterfront that will anchor the site and act as a destination for visitors to Downtown Bridgeport and surrounding towns in Fairfield County. Steel Point will be a 2.8-million sq. ft. mixed - use development including a marina, additional shops and residences. Bass Pro Shops will break ground in mid-2014 and open Q3-2015.