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Report Highlights Opportunities, and Needs, That Offshore Wind Creates for Connecticut

  • New report offers recommendations on how Connecticut can be a leader in offshore wind projects
  • Report was commissioned by the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut along with Eversource and Ørsted, who are partnering on several offshore wind projects
  • Recommendations include port developments, improving workforce training, and active efforts to promote and support offshore wind operations in the state

Summary by Dirk Langeveld

Connecticut should take an aggressive approach to attracting offshore wind opportunities and invest in port upgrades and workforce training that can support the industry, a recent report argues.

The report, “Embracing the Potential of Offshore Wind in Connecticut,” was commissioned by the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut along with Eversource and Ørsted, who are partnering on several offshore wind projects as well as a major redevelopment of State Pier in New London. The 156-page report gives particular attention to Connecticut’s ports, supply chains, and workforce, with dozens of pages dedicated to port infrastructure assessments.

Offshore wind is poised for major growth in the coming decades, the report suggests, as the White House has set a goal of deploying 30 gigawatts of offshore wind capacity by 2030. The United States currently has only two offshore wind facilities, one near Block Island in Rhode Island and another off the Virginia coast. However, several other installations are in development, including the nation’s first utility-scale project off Massachusetts.

The report says the East Coast has several factors enabling it to support offshore wind developments. These include consistent strong winds, relatively shallow water depths, and amenable geologic and geotechnical bottom conditions.

Connecticut enjoys the further advantage of having deep water ports with no overhead obstructions, a quality favored by offshore wind companies since they prefer turbines to be standing upright when shipped to wind lease areas. The report says other advantages include Connecticut’s skilled workforce, an existing maritime supply chain supporting submarine production at General Dynamics Electric Boat in Groton, and a strong manufacturing sector that could potentially pivot or expand to support the offshore wind industry.

There are currently two active projects in Connecticut to support the offshore wind industry. Revolution Wind, a joint venture of Ørsted and Eversource, will create an installation 32 miles southeast of the Connecticut coast with a 704-megawatt capacity. Rhode Island is procuring 400 megawatts from this project, with Connecticut procuring 304 megawatts. Deployment and marshalling for this project will take place out of State Pier.

To support this effort, Ørsted and Eversource are partnering with the state of Connecticut on a $235 million overhaul of State Pier to support heavy-lift operations. This redevelopment is anticipated to be complete by 2023 and will support Revolution Wind as Sunrise Wind and South Fork Wind, two other joint ventures of Ørsted and Eversource. The report says the pier’s upgrades will also make it a “highly desirable asset” for other offshore wind developers if it is not utilized in the future for other Ørsted and Eversource projects.

The second project, Park City Wind, is being developed by Avangrid Renewables and will be located in Vineyard Wind’s lease area 23 miles off the coast of Massachusetts. The 804-megawatt installation will be developed out of Bridgeport, likely at the Barnum Landing property.

The report outlines a series of steps Connecticut can take to position itself as a leader in the offshore wind industry, including:

  • Creating a centralized state agency or multi-agency committee with the dedicated purpose of developing the offshore wind industry
  • Forming a regional partnership with neighboring states to provide collaborative support on offshore wind initiatives
  • Establishing a “significant funding mechanism” for ports development in the state
  • Dredging Bridgeport’s harbor
  • Actively promoting Connecticut to attract offshore wind businesses and support existing businesses in the industry
  • Developing and maintaining an offshore wind supply chain database
  • Addressing workforce needs in the offshore wind industry, with particular attention to wind engineering, welding, and steel working

The report suggests that offshore wind should be incorporated into Connecticut’s existing manufacturing landscape, with incentives to encourage offshore wind companies to locate in Connecticut and existing manufacturers to create offshore wind manufacturing or fabrication capacity. It recommends that the state’s manufacturers should focus on providing corrosion-resistant Tier 2 through Tier 4 components such as nacelle subcomponents, electrical discharge machining, and supervisory control and data acquisition systems.

Numerous port infrastructure assessments in Connecticut are included in the report, addressing factors such as distance to transportation options like rail and road, proximity to wind lease areas, acreage available, and environmental restrictions. These assessments offer the highest ratings to State Pier, saying minimal upgrades are needed to make this site suitable to support construction and marshalling, storage, and operations and maintenance for the offshore wind industry. The report says operations and maintenance can be supported with minimal upgrades at Branford Marina, New Haven Terminal, and Barnum Landing.

For offshore wind manufacturing operations, most sites were ruled unsuitable or only suitable with major upgrades. However, the report determined that Mohawk Northeast in New London would be a good site for manufacturing tower sections and secondary steel work. State Pier, Branford Marina, and Barnum Landing also received high marks for their potential use for secondary steel work.

The report also recommends other potential sites for development to support offshore wind. It suggests that New London should explore the possibility of developing Fisherman’s Landing on the Fort Trumbull peninsula to support crew transfer vessel operations, with Pequot Landing and the former Norwich State Hospital site on the Thames River as potential locations for higher tiered offshore wind manufacturing sites.

The report came out soon after a coalition led by the Southeastern Connecticut Enterprise Region was named as a finalist in the Build Back Better Regional Challenge with a proposal to strengthen southeastern Connecticut’s “blue economy,” including offshore wind. The proposal recommends some steps similar to those in the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut report, including reviving industrial sites on the Thames River to support the offshore wind industry and developing workforce development models to train residents for jobs in the industry.

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