Planning Board approves fuel cell proposal

By CHRIS EBERHART

Morgan Stanley’s proposed fuel cell at the company’s Westchester site in Purchase was approved during Harrison’s Feb. 25 Planning Board meeting as the proposal continues to make its way through the approval process.

Morgan Stanley’s proposal to build a 250-kilowatt fuel cell, which will provide a clean and reliable energy source to the company’s building, was approved by Harrison’s Planning Board. The final product will look similar to the one pictured. Contributed photo

Morgan Stanley’s proposal to build a 250-kilowatt fuel cell, which will provide a clean and reliable energy source to the company’s building, was approved by Harrison’s Planning Board. The final product will look similar to the one pictured. Contributed photo

After being introduced to the Planning Board on Jan. 28, the proposal was finally approved by the Planning Board and sent to the Town Council, which will hold a public hearing during its next meeting on March 20 and get feedback on Morgan Stanley’s most recent “green” investment—a 250-kilowatt fuel cell, which will provide a clean energy source to the Morgan Stanley office building, located at 2000 Westchester Ave. in Purchase.

Morgan Stanley, the multinational financial firm, will use Bloom Energy, a California-based energy company, to install the fuel cell, which will be powered by natural gas supplied by Con Edison. Instead of the gas being burned, the natural gas will be used in a chemical reaction to generate electricity that will provide “clean, base-load power to the facility and uninterruptible power in the event of a loss of power to the grid,” according to the site plan application. “This energy production will, in turn, reduce the demand on the commercial energy supply.”

Town Councilman Fred Sciliano, a Republican, said reducing the demand on the energy supply in the area lightens the workload for the grid, which powers all the buildings along Westchester Avenue and helps neighboring buildings around Morgan Stanley keep their energy usage down, which in turn, keeps costs down. Sciliano said such a practice becomes more beneficial in the summer months when air conditioners are constantly running.

In addition to the actual fuel cell, the site plan application also calls for a 550-foot service road, which would be constructed from the existing access road to the site from Kenilworth Road.

Rosemarie Cusumano, secretary for the planning, zoning and architectural review boards, said the costs of the proposal won’t be known until Morgan Stanley applies for a building permit.

According to the site plan, the proposal fully complies with the town’s municipal code and would not require any variances. Additionally, the proposal is considered a SEQR—the State Environmental Quality Review act—type II facility, which means the proposed project would not result in any significant adverse environmental impacts. Because it’s a type II facility, the proposal did not require any further SEQR review, but Morgan Stanley included a short Environmental Assessment Form essentially stating their will be no adverse impact on the environment.

The fuel cell is the latest continuation of an ongoing trend by Morgan Stanley to be “green.” Late last year, Morgan Stanley unveiled its six-acre, 820-kilowatt solar panel to offset a percentage of its electricity usage.

Sciliano said, in terms of utilizing a “green” building, Morgan Stanley is more the exception than the rule among Harrison businesses.

“Morgan Stanley has done a lot over the years and there are some buildings on the Manhattanville campus that are going green, but there aren’t a lot of other examples [in the town],” Sciliano said.

Representatives from Morgan Stanley could not be reached for comment as of press time.

CONTACT: christopher@hometwn.com