View Full Version : NStar hit for waving BU off plan for fuel cell

Mar 11, 2004, 01:49 PM
When Boston University began a $300 million campus renovation last year, the university planned to install one of the largest "fuel cell" electric generating units in the nation, a tennis-court sized device that would produce enough power for 4,000 homes but with only a tiny fraction of power-plant pollution.

But NStar Electric warned BU that the university would still have to pay big fees to maintain a connection to the NStar grid. That led BU to quietly shelve the plans -- and fueled contentions by several environmentalists that the big Westwood utility, fearing it could lose high-revenue customers, is trying to strangle what could be a crucial new source of clean, reliable, economic energy for Greater Boston.

Mar 11, 2004, 10:18 PM
I'd have to agree with the environmentalist: a big utility watching out for their bottom line!

It's disturbing when big corporations crush great ideas. :(

I can sorta see the other sides perspective, though. They still have to maintain those lines, but I don't have too much sympathy for them. Almost 1/5 of my power bill is tallied up to that. I'm sure I've paid for the meter and electric and gas lines that would go halfway to the power plant by now (been living here 12 years).

Too bad BU couldn't have put in 2 of the power plants!

Mar 12, 2004, 12:08 PM
Yeah. If they could put in two of those powerplants, then maybe they could get off the grid entirely. But then again, NStar may need the revenue from the college to fix all the cables that are electrocuting all those dogs in Boston :rolleyes:

Mar 12, 2004, 12:51 PM
BU should be allowed to build its own fuel cell plant. The environmentalist should be backing up BU in their cause. This also causes concern for home owners that want to install solar or wind power. Will NStar at some point prevent that also?

Mr. Anderson
Mar 12, 2004, 12:53 PM
BU should be allowed to build its own fuel cell plant. The environmentalist should be backing up BU in their cause.

just because they should, doesn't mean its going to happen. Reality sets in and when it comes to money, things can get ugly.


Mar 12, 2004, 01:43 PM
BU could still build their own plant, they'd just have to pay a high premium to have the extra backup of being on the NStar grid. I think the best case scenario would be for BU to take over maintenance of their part of the grid and pay a small premium for the backup - or even a higher power cost when they do use the backup power. NStar seems to be quite rigid with an all or nothing stance, or maybe BU didn't want to deal with the red tape of coming to a satisfactory arrangement... There should be some happy middle ground in there.

Mar 12, 2004, 01:57 PM
They need to take it up with the PUC or perhaps FERC. I can't imagine that the connection fees would be that great. Utilities are forced to be non profit. When I was a kid and had some stock in a utility and read the shareholder information I was astonished at the way that the numbers magically seemed to balance in terms of debt and investing and dividends. How there was 0 net. I shouted Shenanigans and got an explanation.

They are forced to provide power etc at cost. This may have changed with "Deregulation" but I don't think so.

Deregulation is in quotes because thats what it was called but that wasn't what it was.