Bids Bring Offshore Wind One Step Closer in Conn.

By ecoRI News staff

The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) recently closed the bidding period of a request for proposals (RFP) for renewable-energy resources, including offshore wind. The RFP, which closed April 2, allowed bidders to propose up to the maximum amount of offshore wind generation allowed under law: 3 percent of load or about 250 megawatts.

“Offshore wind is a critical technology for states to meet their clean energy and greenhouse gas reduction requirements,” said Emily Lewis, a policy analyst at Acadia Center. “The region needs rapid deployment of offshore wind, and Connecticut’s RFP shows that the state wants to participate in growing the market for this clean energy resource.”

While DEEP hasn’t yet published the details of the submitted proposals, any selected offshore wind project will likely fulfill Connecticut’s legal limit for offshore wind. The Legislature will need to take action to continue growing offshore wind.

“With aggressive commitments from Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey, the emerging offshore wind industry will bring thousands of highly paid, skilled jobs to the Northeast in the coming years," said John Humphries, organizer for the Connecticut Roundtable on Climate and Jobs. "Connecticut has taken a modest initial step with this procurement process, but the good news is that New London's port is well positioned to become a regional hub of activity to support offshore wind projects up and down the coast.”

Recent studies have shown that offshore wind development could create as many as 36,000 jobs in the Northeast region, but significant long-term commitments from Connecticut and other states are needed to maximize this economic development potential throughout the offshore wind supply chain.

“We have the skilled people to make this happen. 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.

Scott Bates, chairman of the Connecticut Port Authority, said, “Wind energy has the potential to help power Connecticut’s maritime economy. This is an industry that is custom designed to leverage our deepwater ports. Connecticut is uniquely positioned geographically and logistically to support development of offshore wind projects from southern New England to the Mid-Atlantic states.

“Besides our obvious strategic location at the exact center of the region most likely to support offshore wind, New London also happens to be the only port between Boston and Norfolk with no height restrictions (no bridges) in the main channel.”