HARTFORD, CT — More than sixty labor, religious, environmental and business leaders gathered on Wednesday to discuss the development of offshore wind energy in New England and to call for Connecticut to act quickly to secure a share of the jobs and economic activity.
The half-day forum, hosted by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (“IBEW”) Local 90 in Wallingford, was organized by the CT Roundtable on Climate and Jobs and Acadia Center, with co-sponsorship from the Connecticut Port Authority and the Greater Hartford-New Britain Building and Construction Trades Council.
Following the gathering, the CT Roundtable on Climate and Jobs is submitting a letter, endorsed by more than 120 people representing more than 55 towns across the state, as a public comment on the state’s Draft Comprehensive Energy Strategy (“CES”). The letter urges the CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (“DEEP”) to revise the draft CES to incorporate a meaningful commitment to offshore wind energy, taking advantage of planned development in pre-designated federal waters south of Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
“By taking advantage of lessons learned from neighboring states, Connecticut can develop a robust offshore wind strategy that leverages our modern port facilities and skilled labor pool to capture a share of the benefits of this emerging regional resource,” said John Humphries, organizer for the CT Roundtable on Climate and Jobs.
“Under legislation passed this year, DEEP now has the authority to procure offshore wind energy. Rather than including any recommendation that Connecticut take advantage of even that limited authority, however, the draft CES downplays the opportunity,” said Kerry Schlichting, Policy Advocate at Acadia Center. “The state must establish a clear path to securing a share of the regional economic and environmental benefits from offshore wind or risk losing out to its neighbors like New York and Massachusetts.”
So far Connecticut has lagged behind its neighboring states in creating a long-term energy strategy that embraces offshore wind. The Block Island Wind Farm off the coast of Rhode Island is operational, Massachusetts is actively reviewing offshore wind project bids, and New York, Maryland, and New Jersey are all developing their own ambitious programs. The scale of this offshore wind development presents an enormous economic opportunity for Connecticut’s deep-water ports, coastal communities and workers. To catch up and capture its share of this new economic opportunity, the state needs to develop a sound policy framework for offshore wind procurement.
The coalition’s CES comment builds on this week’s forum and argues that the final CES should ensure alignment of the state’s energy strategies with its mandated climate goals, while also envisioning a clean energy future that prioritizes local economic development and job creation.
Wednesday’s forum featured a panel discussion with labor leaders from Rhode Island and New York. Construction of the region’s first offshore wind farm off the coast of Block Island employed more than 300 union workers, including some from Connecticut. Advocacy by New York’s labor movement was critical in securing Governor Cuomo’s January 2017 executive order addressing the procurement of offshore wind energy.
For more information on Connecticut’s offshore wind opportunity and steps for state policy makers, please see Acadia Center’s analysis.
Kerry Schlichting, Policy Advocate, Acadia Center
firstname.lastname@example.org, 860-246-7121 ext. 208
John Humphries, Organizer, CT Roundtable on Climate and Jobs