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Danbury's FuelCell Energy Cuts Nearly 100 Jobs

Chip Bottone is president and CEO of Danbury-based FuelCell Energy.
Chip Bottone is president and CEO of Danbury-based FuelCell Energy. Photo Credit: contributed

DANBURY, Conn. -- FuelCell Energy, headquartered in Danbury, announced Thursday that it is eliminating 96 jobs -- or approximately 17 percent of its global workforce -- as part of a business restructuring plan.

FuelCell describes itself as "a global leader in the design, manufacture, operation and service of ultra‐clean, efficient and reliable fuel cell power plants."

The company said the layoffs would affect workers at its North American manufacturing facility, in Torrington, and its corporate offices in Danbury, as well as remote locations. It wasn't immediately clear what portion of the jobs were local ones. A spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

FuelCell said the restructuring also included "reducing materials spend" and other cost-control initiatives.

The company aims to reduce its operating costs by at least $6 million a year. It said it's producing at only half of its prior rate -- 25 megawatts a year, down from 50. The layoffs will cost approximately $3 million in the coming year, between severance pay and other costs.

"We are streamlining our business and cost structure as we reduce our production levels to meet the backlog we have today while positioning the company for long-term success," said FuelCell Energy President and CEO Chip Bottone.

"Our employees are our most valued assets, so the decision to reduce our workforce was not made lightly."

The company said it expects the production rate to only be temporary. It noted that increases would be handled with the pared-down production force.

"This news is yet another example of the struggles confronting both working people and businesses leaders in today's manufacturing sector," U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty told Daily Voice. She represents Connecticut's 5th District, which includes Danbury.

We must take critical steps to avert layoffs like these. At the top of that list are reforming our tax code to encourage job creation here in the United States and renewing tax policies like the Section 48 investment tax credit that promote growth and innovation.

I'm working with both Democrats and Republicans to do just that.

Esty said that the country needs an economy that supports working families from the ground up -- "a system in which folks who work hard have the opportunity to enter good-paying careers and provide for their families."

She's partnering with her colleagues, she said, to rebuild Connecticut's infrastructure, promote U.S. manufacturing and expand training for in-demand jobs.

FuelCell has power plants on three continents, providing power to utilities, commercial and municipal customers. A ticker on the company's website notes that its plants have produced 5.4 billion kilowatt hours of "ultra-clean power" to date.

For more information about the company, visit its website.

This story has been updated, to include comment from Rep. Esty.

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