State House bets big on off­shore wind

NL could be a win­ner if project sails for­ward

The Day - - FRONT PAGE - By BEN­JAMIN KAIL Day Staff Writer

Hart­ford — The state House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives on Tues­day over­whelm­ingly backed a mea­sure to bring up to 2,000 megawatts of off­shore wind power to Con­necti­cut, one of sev­eral East Coast states bank­ing on fu­ture off­shore wind farms to boost re­new­able en­ergy pro­duc­tion while cut­ting car­bon emis­sions.

The 134-10 vote on House Bill 7156 comes fresh off Gov. Ned La­mont’s May 2 visit to New Lon­don, where he an­nounced a long-term pri­vate-pub­lic in­vest­ment of $93 mil­lion be­tween the state, Con­necti­cut Port Au­thor­ity, pier op­er­a­tor Gate­way and de­vel­oper Bay State Wind to over­haul New Lon­don State Pier into an off­shore wind hub with im­proved in­fra­struc­ture and heavy-lift ca­pa­bil­ity. New Lon­don of­fi­cials are ne­go­ti­at­ing a host com­mu­nity agree­ment that could pro­vide be­tween $250,000 and $750,000 an­nu­ally to the city over a decade­long lease with Bay State Wind.

“Our ad­min­is­tra­tion is work­ing hard to put Con­necti­cut in a place to be­come the cen­ter hub of the off­shore wind in­dus­try in New Eng­land, and this leg­is­la­tion moves us one step closer to mak­ing that a re­al­ity,” La­mont said in a news re­lease. “Our valu­able shore­line has the po­ten­tial to pro­vide mul­ti­ple ben­e­fits to Con­necti­cut residents ... We can in­crease the re­gional grid’s fuel se­cu­rity and make sig­nif­i­cant progress to­ward meet­ing our cli­mate goals, all while driv­ing eco­nomic growth and cre­at­ing good jobs.”

If House Bill 7156 finds suc­cess in the state Sen­ate and on La­mont’s desk, Con­necti­cut will join New York, New Jer­sey, Massachusetts and Virginia in an­nounc­ing tar­gets of be­tween 2,000 and 9,000 megawatts in off­shore wind power in the com­ing years. By com­par­i­son, Mill­stone Power Sta­tion’s two nu­clear units gen­er­ate about 2,100 megawatts com­bined. And while Mill­stone’s con­tin­ued op­er­a­tion for an­other decade was se­cured through a re­cent

deal be­tween utilities and Do­min­ion En­ergy, law­mak­ers and re­new­able en­ergy ad­vo­cates have pushed off­shore wind as an even­tual re­place­ment source of power.

“We have restric­tions on nat­u­ral gas due to pipe­line build­ing prob­lems, restric­tions on hy­dropower be­cause of trans­mis­sion line ac­cess, but on our doorstep we’ve at­tracted in­ter­est from Europe and folks who’ve done (off­shore wind) long be­fore we have,” said state Sen. Paul Formica, R-East Lyme.

Con­necti­cut al­ready is slated to re­ceive 300 megawatts of elec­tric­ity by 2023 from the Rev­o­lu­tion Wind project south of Martha’s Vine­yard, in de­vel­op­ment by Bay State Wind, a joint ven­ture be­tween off­shore wind gi­ant Orsted and Ever­source In­vest­ment LLC, an un­reg­u­lated Ever­source sub­sidiary. State-reg­u­lated utilities Ever­source and United Il­lu­mi­nat­ing will buy the elec­tric­ity and de­liver it to con­sumers, but the pro­posed rate for ratepay­ers re­mains undis­closed while the Pub­lic Utilities Reg­u­la­tory Au­thor­ity re­views the pro­posal. Rev­o­lu­tion Wind also will de­liver 400 megawatts to Rhode Is­land.

With in­creased scale and com­pe­ti­tion as states go green, off­shore wind prices have fallen sig­nif­i­cantly since the U.S.’s first off­shore wind project, the 30-megawatt Block Is­land Wind Farm, which was built by Deep­wa­ter Wind. Orsted pur­chased Deep­wa­ter Wind, the ini­tial Rev­o­lu­tion Wind project de­vel­oper, for $500 mil­lion last fall.

In a state­ment, Bay State Wind said law­mak­ers had moved Con­necti­cut in the right di­rec­tion.

Op­por­tu­nity for new jobs

“With this new in­dus­try comes sig­nif­i­cant op­por­tu­nity for job cre­ation, lo­cal in­vest­ment in south­east­ern Con­necti­cut, and statewide eco­nomic ben­e­fits,” the de­vel­oper said. “Off­shore wind also sup­ports the tran­si­tion from older, dirt­ier fuel sources to clean, affordable, car­bon-free en­ergy.”

The leg­is­la­tion en­sures that DEEP be­gins the process to seek pro­pos­als from off­shore wind de­vel­op­ers just two weeks af­ter the law’s pas­sage. It also re­quires DEEP to es­tab­lish a sched­ule for fu­ture pro­cure­ments of off­shore wind, up to 2,000 megawatts by 2030. The law calls for con­tract com­mit­ments from de­vel­op­ers that pay the pre­vail­ing wage and the cre­ation of a new com­mis­sion to help min­i­mize im­pacts to the en­vi­ron­ment and com­mer­cial fish­ing dur­ing con­struc­tion and op­er­a­tion.

John Humphries, lead or­ga­nizer for the CT Round­table on Cli­mate and Jobs, praised law­mak­ers for work­ing “to­gether to make this ag­gres­sive long-term com­mit­ment to off­shore wind with the strong­est labor and en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tions of any state in the re­gion.”

While state and lo­cal lead­ers have touted New Lon­don’s po­ten­tial as an off­shore wind hub, Vine­yard Wind, the de­vel­oper picked to de­liver off­shore wind power to Massachusetts, has set its eyes on Bridgeport.

Vine­yard Wind ap­plauded the House on Tues­day and said if the state even­tu­ally se­lects it to sup­ply wind power, the com­pany “will in­vest mil­lions of dol­lars in the re­vi­tal­iza­tion of Bridgeport Har­bor and its con­ver­sion into a mod­ern, state-of-the-art ship­ping chan­nel, so that the har­bor can be used as a stag­ing area for the on­go­ing con­struc­tion” of its planned 800-megawatt wind farm, also off the coast of Martha’s Vine­yard.

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