Coca-Cola's bottling plant on Main Street unveiled its new fuel cells on Friday morning — the result of a collaboration between the beverage company, UTC Power, the town of East Hartford and the Connecticut Clean Energy Fund.
A local panel picked artwork submitted by East Hartford High School junior Julia Steele, who designed a banner that was replicated on a huge sticker sheet and placed over one of the fuel cells on display at the unveiling.
Steele, who was thanked and congratulated by local legislators and officials, received a $1,000 savings bond from Coca-Cola.
"This is a proud moment for East Hartford," said Mayor Marcia Leclerc, and noted the relationships between the town's businesses, the school system and the community as a whole.
Leclerc also pointed out banners depicting Steele's artwork that will be displayed along Main Street.
The installation of the fuel cells was helped along by a $1.2 million grant from the Connecticut Clean Energy Fund, said Chairwoman Norma Glover. She said that the fund has supported the installation of 25 total fuel cells in the state.
Mike Brown, the Vice President of UTC Power, which manufactures the fuel cells, said they are designed to combine hydrogen and oxygen without combustion to create electricity, and run on natural gas.
With six fuel cells in the town of East Hartford, Brown said, "this is a great fuel cell Mecca, if you will."
Plant Manager Brian Misenheimer said the energy efficient fuel cells will reduce the bottling plant's energy consumption by about 30 percent. They will be used for space heating and warming the bottles.
Source: MELISSA TRAYNOR, The Hartford Courant