- - Sunday, November 20, 2011


State rethinks subsidy of costly fuel-cell program

HARTFORD — After spending millions of dollars to run a state complex with fuel cells, partly to boast of their size and also to tout a homegrown industry, Connecticut officials concede privately that the cost is too high and they are looking to get out of a complicated, long-term contract.

The state spends $1.4 million every year for the fuel cells at its 10-year-old juvenile center, an amount that Connecticut’s energy commissioner, Daniel Esty, called excessive in an email Sept. 6 to the governor’s budget chief, Benjamin Barnes.

“The fuel cells installed were oversized for the facility to be able to ‘brag’ about it being the largest fuel cell installation in the world” at that time, he wrote in the email, which was obtained by the Associated Press in a Freedom of Information Act request.

But state officials have been reluctant to remove the cells “because of the appearance that we were renouncing green technology and because it was launched with some fanfare,” Mr. Barnes wrote. “This position deserves at least reconsideration.”

The emails shed light on a pricey state subsidy and the cost of fuel cells at a time when government wants to discourage use of fossil fuels such as natural gas and oil.


Court to hear case on Colorado River share

SAN DIEGO — A landmark accord that ended decades of acrimony over how Southern California gets its water is in jeopardy.

A California appeals court is considering whether to overturn a 2003 pact that created the nation’s largest farm-to-city water transfer and set new rules for dividing the state’s share of the Colorado River. A three-judge panel of the 3rd Appellate District in Sacramento will hear arguments Monday.

If a lower court ruling stands, consequences could ripple to six other Western states and Mexico, which also rely on the 1,450-mile river that flows from the Rocky Mountains to the Sea of Cortez.

Farmers and environmentalists involved in the lawsuit argue that the pact is deeply flawed. Water agencies say it is critical to keeping an uneasy peace on the river.


Gunwoman’s rampage leaves 2 dead, 5 injured

GREENSBORO — Deputies in North Carolina say a gunwoman killed one person and wounded five more before killing herself.

Guilford County Sheriff BJ Barnes said the victims were found in three locations near Greensboro about 9:30 a.m. Sunday. He said officers found the gunwoman on a road near the parking lot where one wounded victim had just been found. The gunwoman had shot herself, and another wounded person was in the back seat.

Deputies then went to a nearby home, where one person was found dead and three more injured. Sheriff Barnes said four victims are younger than 18, all knew one another, and some are related.

The sheriff said three of the injured are on life support. Deputies said no more information would be released until Monday morning.


Crews start repairs on wildfire-scorched land

RENO — Fire crews in Reno focused Sunday on lingering hot spots and began repair work on the hillsides blackened by wildfire that destroyed 32 homes.

Sierra Fire Protection District Capt. Mark Regan said that the 2,000-acre fire remained 80 percent contained. Fire crews were getting help from a snowstorm that hit the area.

Capt. Regan said state officials were reviewing damages to determine how much government assistance would be needed and that workers were repairing hillsides and reseeding areas where vegetation was lost to prevent mudslides.

Nearly 10,000 people were forced to leave their homes when the fire erupted Friday; most people returned Saturday night. Reno Fire Chief Mike Hernandez said the fire was spreading at a rate of up to 30 miles per hour because of gale-force winds.


Fire burns down museum building named for Pilgrim

PLYMOUTH — A straw roof that caught fire during a cooking demonstration at the Plimoth Plantation living history museum has destroyed a building named for a Pilgrim.

No one was hurt during the Saturday morning blaze at the Cooke House, a Colonial-style building in Plymouth.

The Plimoth Plantation portrays what 17th-century life was like for America’s early European settlers, the Pilgrims, and the native population.

Executive Director Ellie Donovan said the plantation would raise money to rebuild the Cooke House. It was named for Francis Cooke, who arrived in America in 1620 on the Mayflower.

The plantation was closed for about an hour after the blaze.


State takes custody of baby born to Nazi-naming parents

NEWARK — State child welfare officials have taken custody of a baby born to a couple whose other three children with Nazi-inspired names were removed nearly two years ago.

Heath and Deborah Campbell made headlines in 2009 when a supermarket refused to decorate a birthday cake for their son Adolf Hitler Campbell.

An attorney for them says a child named Hons was born Thursday at Hunterdon Medical Center. Pasquale Giannetta said state child services representatives took custody of the baby at the hospital.

Mr. Giannetta said a court hearing has been scheduled for Monday to determine whether the agency will keep custody. Agency officials declined to comment. In court filings, the agency said the children were in danger because previous violence in the Campbell home.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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