On Friday, Gov. Ned Lamont, D-Conn., signed a bill authorizing Connecticut to purchase up to 2 GW of offshore wind, or the equivalent of 30% of the state’s load, by the end of 2030.
The state’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) is required to initiate a request for proposals (RFP) within 14 days of the passage of the bill. DEEP must then set up a future schedule for procurements.
“Connecticut should be the central hub of the offshore wind industry in New England,” Lamont says. “This emerging industry has the potential to create hundreds of good-paying jobs for the residents of our state and drive economic growth in towns along our shoreline. And by delivering zero-carbon renewable energy, we can increase our region’s fuel security while also making significant progress toward meeting our climate goals. By adopting this new law, we are sending a clear message: Connecticut is serious about becoming a major player in the clean energy economy.”
Lamont thanks the Energy and Technology Committee’s co-chairs and ranking members – Sen. Norm Needleman, D-Essex; Rep. David Arconti, D-Danbury; Sen. Paul Formica, R-East Lyme; and Rep. Charles Ferraro, R-West Haven – for their leadership in working with his administration to draft the bipartisan legislation, H.B.7156, and achieve its approval. The bill, which was approved last month in the House of Representatives, was given legislative approval last Tuesday in the State Senate.
“With the stroke of a pen [Friday], Governor Lamont made history,” says Erich Stephens, chief development officer for Vineyard Wind, a joint venture between Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners and Avangrid Renewables. “This legislation has the potential to make Connecticut a major player in offshore wind power, an industry that’s poised for tremendous growth in the coming years.”
Vineyard Wind is looking to work with the City of Bridgeport and an existing Connecticut business along the city’s harbor, Bridgeport Boatworks. If the company is accepted as a supplier of wind energy for the state, it will invest in the revitalization of Bridgeport Harbor so that it can be used as a staging area for the ongoing construction of Vineyard Wind’s facility off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard, Mass.
“Our plan,” explains Stephens, “which will invest millions into the City of Bridgeport, would turn offshore wind into statewide industry and create good-paying jobs with good benefits.”
According to the Lamont administration, the legislation includes the following other provisions:
- Provides for competition and selection for best prices while achieving economic development benefits and minimizing environmental/fisheries impacts;
- Begins a process under which DEEP will work with the Department of Economic and Community Development to ensure selected proposals have positive impacts on the state’s economic development;
- Requires contract commitments from selected bids that pay the prevailing wage and engage in good-faith negotiation of a project labor agreement; and
- Commits the state and DEEP to create a commission to develop best-management practices for minimizing impacts to wildlife, natural resources, ecosystems and commercial fishing during the construction and operation of facilities. Bidders will be required to develop mitigation plans that reflect these practices.
“It is my priority to see that Connecticut reaps the maximum benefit from this historic commitment to renewable energy,” comments Katie Dykes, DEEP commissioner. “We have initiated the RFP process and are committed to advancing this clean energy technology in ways that address impacts to our environment and fisheries.”
The approval of the legislation comes on the heels of a public-private partnership Lamont announced last month with Bay State Wind – a joint venture between Ørsted and Eversource – to redevelop State Pier in New London into an offshore wind port facility.