The Connecticut House of Representatives has approved legislation that would authorize the significant procurement of offshore wind in the state.
The legislation, which was approved in the House by a 134-10 vote, will next be referred to the State Senate.
H.B.7156, An Act Concerning the Procurement of Energy Derived From Offshore Wind, includes the following provisions:
- Authorizes the state to purchase up to 2 GW of offshore wind (or equivalent to 30% of state load);
- Ensures swift action – the state’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) must initiate a solicitation 14 days after passage of the bill;
- Requires DEEP to set up a future schedule for procurements;
- 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 develop 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.
“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,” says Gov. Ned Lamont, D-Conn. “Our valuable shoreline has the potential to provide multiple benefits to Connecticut residents; by delivering zero-carbon renewable energy, 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. This is an opportunity that we cannot squander, and the growing, unified momentum behind this bill shows just how important this is to Connecticut. I’ve spoken with numerous members of the Senate about this bill, and I am confident that we can get it approved in that chamber so that I can sign it into law.”
Earlier this month, Lamont announced that the State of Connecticut, through the Connecticut Port Authority, and terminal operator Gateway are partnering with Bay State Wind, a joint venture between Ørsted and Eversource, on a deal that would redevelop New London’s State Pier into an offshore wind port facility.
“This legislation sends an unmistakable signal that Connecticut is poised for historic investment in offshore wind,” notes Katie Dykes, DEEP commissioner. “I applaud the legislature’s support for this bill, and here at DEEP, we are looking forward to implementing this policy once it secures final passage.”
Applauding the legislation is Vineyard Wind, which is looking to create a partnership with the City of Bridgeport and an existing Connecticut business along the city’s harbor, Bridgeport Boatworks. If Vineyard Wind is accepted as a supplier of wind energy for the state, it will invest millions of dollars in the revitalization of Bridgeport Harbor and its conversion into an offshore wind staging area.
“H.B.7156 gives the state a real opportunity to create good-paying jobs with good benefits in an industry that’s poised for huge growth in the coming years,” comments Erich Stephens, Vineyard Wind’s chief development officer.
“We look forward to continuing our efforts to bring renewable energy opportunities that grow the economy, create jobs and become sustainable to protect our environment,” adds Bridgeport’s mayor, Joe Ganim. “Bridgeport’s waterfront and harbor are experiencing a tremendous overhaul in positive development. This growth paired with environmental innovation will continue to attract new businesses to our city that will provide employment and tax-base growth.”