Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont has signed legislation his administration introduced that authorises the development of offshore wind in the east coast state.
The legislation, which was approved last month in the House of Representatives, was given final legislative approval on 4 June 2019 in the State Senate and rules were suspended so that the bill could be immediately transmitted to the governor.
Now that it has received his signature, the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) plans to promptly begin the RFP process, followed by an opportunity for public comment and incorporating the findings of the Commission of Environmental Standards. The statute calls for the commission to recommend for inclusion in each RFP best practices on minimising environmental and fisheries impact.
“Connecticut should be the central hub of the offshore wind industry in New England,” Governor Lamont said. “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.
“It is my priority to see that Connecticut reaps the maximum benefit from this historic commitment to renewable energy,” DEEP Commissioner Katie Dykes said. “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.”
Among its provisions, the legislation authorises the state to purchase up to 2.0 GW – equivalent to 30% of state load – the largest authorisation by load of any state in the region.
The legislation also ensures swift action – DEEP must initiate a solicitation 14 days after passage; requires DEEP to set up a future schedule for procurements; provides for robust competition and selection for best prices while achieving economic development benefits and minimising 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 labour agreement; and commits the state and DEEP to form a commission to develop best management practices for minimising impacts to wildlife, natural resources, ecosystems, and commercial fishing during the construction and operation of facilities. Bidders will be required to submit mitigation plans that reflect these practices.
The legislation's approval comes on the heels of a public-private partnership between the State of Connecticut, through the Connecticut Port Authority, terminal operator Gateway, and Bay State Wind, a joint venture between Ørsted and Eversource, that includes a plan to redevelop State Pier in New London into a port facility.
The partnership includes a combined US$93M investment to upgrade State Pier’s infrastructure and heavy-lift capability that will allow it to meet the facility requirements of the offshore wind industry and benefit the port’s long-term growth by increasing its capability to accommodate heavy-lift cargo for years to come. The legislation is House Bill 7156, An Act Concerning the Procurement of Energy Derived from Offshore Wind.