Citing the South Windsor business as a leader in reducing energy costs through alternative sources, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy toured Carla’s Pasta Inc. Wednesday.
In the last year, Carla’s, which produces frozen pasta and pesto products distributed nationally to supermarkets and restaurants, installed a 300-kilowatt fuel cell with the assistance of federal and state grants.
By reducing energy costs, the company has been able to reinvest in itself. Carla’s is currently working on a 26,000-square-foot expansion, which, according Carla’s Vice President of Operations Sergio Squatrito, will help the business grow from about 147 employees currently to about 200 by the end of the year. The expansion will, according to Squatrito, increase the pasta production, which is 2 million pounds per month, by about one third.
It’s the type of success story that the governor has been touting along with his recently unveiled draft energy policy.
“[Carla’s] is a perfect example of what we can achieve working with businesses to rein in energy costs,” Malloy said. “To do what they have done, which is recapture all forms of energy and put them into production is really quite remarkable. … This is exactly the kind of formula of working on energy, working on environment, working on job production and growth that Connecticut needs.”
Malloy’s draft energy plan calls for, among other things, making lower-cost natural gas available to more than 250,000 residents and 75 percent of businesses in the next seven years, and expanding efficiency programs to help residents and businesses reduce energy use.
“[The energy policy] allows us the best chance to cut costs of power and make our businesses and industry more competitive so that they can create jobs that our residents need and the best chance to reduce air emissions and other harmful impacts on our land and water,” Malloy said.
During the tour, Malloy saw the plant’s operations (no photos with him in a hairnet, however); viewed the fuel cell; tasted several products, including cheeseburger ravioli,; and saw Carla’s very first piece of pasta-making equipment which is on display in the entrance.
Squatrito, for his part, hardly sounded like the critics of the Malloy administration who have claimed that the governor’s office has been unfriendly to businesses.
“We want to support the government,” Squatrito said. “Without [the help of various state agencies], we would not be able to do this. We need all the help we can get. We have competitors, all over, like Texas and Iowa and Virginia.”
The government certainly had a hand in the acquisition of the fuel cell, manufactured by Danbury’s FuelCell Energy Inc. and installed in December 2011, that provides Carla’s with electricity and heat, making it less dependent on the power grid while producing cleaner energy, according to Squatrito.
Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Daniel Esty, who was also on the tour, extolled Carla's efforts.
“Pasta may be an old-world product, but there is nothing old-world here,” Esty said.