HARTFORD – Today, Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (CT DEEP) selected Deepwater Wind’s proposal for 200 MW of offshore wind as one of the winning bids in an open request for proposals to support nascent energy technologies, including fuel cells and anaerobic digestors in addition to offshore wind. The selection builds on the regional momentum for offshore wind, following the selection of two projects totaling 1200 MW by Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Deepwater Wind’s winning project is estimated to power about 91,000 homes.
“Connecticut today is showing the region that it wants to participate in the budding offshore wind market and will share in the benefits of being an early mover in adopting this technology,” said Emily Lewis, a policy analyst at Acadia Center. “Acadia Center commends DEEP on taking this important step to procure offshore wind for the state. We hope Connecticut continues to build on this commitment by setting an ambitious offshore wind mandate that creates a sustainable offshore wind industry and continued economic growth.”
The full details of the bid are still hidden until the contracts are completed, but information released to the public indicates that Deepwater Wind’s bid includes:
A commitment of at least $15 million for the New London State Pier;
Plans for significant in-state construction and assembly operations, leading to 1400 direct, indirect, and induced jobs in Connecticut;
Collaboration with local entities to support workforce development, research and economic growth.
“This announcement, combined with the state’s recent commitment of bond funding to revitalize the State Pier, demonstrates that Connecticut is serious about securing its share of the highly-paid offshore wind jobs coming to the Northeast,” said John Humphries, lead organizer for the CT Roundtable on Climate and Jobs. “Whether it’s on the docks, in the water or on the factory floor, Connecticut has the skilled labor needed to jumpstart this new industry bringing clean energy to the region.”
“The building trades workforce of Eastern Connecticut is eager to do whatever is needed to support this growing industry,” said Keith Brothers, president of the New London-Norwich Building and Construction Trades Council. “We urge the Administration and developers to ensure the highest quality construction and timely completion by negotiating project labor agreements for both the port infrastructure and offshore wind projects. Connecticut’s workers are ready to build and maintain the turbines and all the onshore facilities.”
That message was echoed by Sean Daly, Business Manager and member of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 90. “IBEW’s skilled electricians have already installed grid-scale solar projects and onshore wind turbines here in Connecticut. Now we’re eager to help bring this new source of clean energy to the state. And if the legislature authorizes more offshore wind purchases, we look forward to hiring and training new workers. This new industry will be good for our workers and their families, and it will be good for our communities.”
Tony Walter, President of the CT State Council of Machinists, also urged state leaders to encourage Deepwater Wind to invest in local supply-chain development. “From aerospace to submarines, Connecticut’s Machinists provide precision manufacturing outcomes every day. The offshore wind industry will need high-quality parts and equipment, and we should be building them here in Connecticut.”
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.