Off­shore wind en­ergy closer to pow­er­ing state

The News-Times - - OBITUARIES - By Jan Ellen Spiegel

Con­necti­cut is a gov­er­nor’s sig­na­ture away from get­ting into the off­shore wind game, catch­ing up with neigh­bor­ing states on what is widely con­sid­ered to be one of the most promis­ing re­new­able en­ergy sources for the U.S.

With lit­tle de­bate, the Se­nate unan­i­mously ap­proved leg­is­la­tion, al­ready passed in the House, that re­quires 2,000 megawatts of off­shore wind — that’s roughly the same size as Mill­stone — by 2030, about the time the nu­clear plant’s re­cently ap­proved new con­tract runs out. But the 2,000 level is a max­i­mum, not a min­i­mum — which is how other states struc­ture their man­dates.

The ini­tial so­lic­i­ta­tion process kicks off two weeks af­ter the bill is signed — de­signed to align with a so­lic­i­ta­tion un­der­way in Mas­sachusetts, with the goal of get­ting bet­ter pric­ing for both states.

The leg­is­la­tion comes af­ter a few years of wran­gling, in which the state has stead­fastly de­clined to com­mit to an off­shore wind man­date. In the mean­time, some­thing of a canyou-top-this race for off­shore wind went on among neigh­bor­ing states, with New York em­brac­ing a 9,000-megawatt off­shore wind com­mit­ment — with 18 ini­tial bids for up to 1,200 megawatts now un­der con­sid­er­a­tion. Mas­sachusetts has a 3,200-megawatt man­date with 800 megawatts al­ready un­der con­tract and a call in re­cent days for an­other 1,600 megawatts. New Jersey is tar­get­ing 3,500 megawatts

Con­necti­cut has ac­cepted 300 megawatts so far, but there has been no re­quire­ment for off­shore wind. Even with­out the re­cently an­nounced plans for a $93-mil­lion re­de­vel­op­ment plan for the State Pier in New Lon­don to make it ready for off­shore-wind, man­date pro­po­nents strate­gized for months on how to get a 2,000 megawatt re­quire­ment.

Mas­sachusetts has been far ahead of Con­necti­cut and other states in de­vel­op­ing its on-shore com­po­nent of off­shore wind in an ef­fort to cap­ture the jobs and eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment that go with it. The big prize would be snag­ging the U.S. sup­ply chain for off­shore wind. Right now nearly all of it is in Europe.

By com­mit­ting to se­ri­ous wind pro­cure­ment, Con­necti­cut can now bet­ter com­pete for some of that eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment.

“Leg­is­la­tors are now send­ing a loud-and­clear mes­sage that our state is se­ri­ous about se­cur­ing a ma­jor share of this emerg­ing in­dus­try,” John Humphries, ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor of the Con­necti­cut Roundtable on Cli­mate and Jobs, said in a state­ment. “The rapid trans­for­ma­tion of the state’s in­ter­est in off­shore wind de­vel­op­ment is good news for Con­necti­cut’s work­ers and their com­mu­ni­ties be­cause it can jump­start the needed tran­si­tion to a thriv­ing clean en­ergy econ­omy.”

It puts Con­necti­cut in a prime po­si­tion, said Fran­cis Pullaro, ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor of RE­NEW North­east, in a state­ment. “For devel­op­ers of off­shore wind projects, this leg­is­la­tion sends a sig­nal to in­vest in Con­necti­cut and bring the ben­e­fits of af­ford­able re­new­able en­ergy de­vel­op­ment to the state.”

Emily Lewis, direc­tor of cli­mate and en­ergy anal­y­sis at Aca­dia Cen­ter, pointed to the en­vi­ron­men­tal and cli­mate change ben­e­fits. “Off­shore wind is a crit­i­cal piece of the puz­zle to re­duc­ing emis­sions in the north­east, and Con­necti­cut is now poised to join its neigh­bors in har­ness­ing this re­source and ben­e­fit­ting from growth of this new clean en­ergy in­dus­try,” she said in a state­ment.

The state’s new com­mis­sioner of the De­part­ment of En­ergy and En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion, Katie Dykes, was luke­warm on a man­date when she ran DEEP’s en­ergy bureau and as the chair­woman of the Pub­lic Util­i­ties Reg­u­la­tory Au­thor­ity.

She came around as com­mis­sioner when de­tails of tim­ing were ad­dressed, but still wor­ried that 2,000 megawatts was too large a per­cent­age of the state’s over­all power needs. But she said she is aware that the tim­ing was good — with tur­bines get­ting larger, more ef­fi­cient and less ex­pen­sive and fed­eral tax cred­its due to run out at the end of the year.

In the end she said, “I’m pleased with this bill.”

Eric Thayer / Bloomberg

The GE-Al­stom Block Is­land Wind Farm stands in the water off Block Is­land, R.I.

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