Governor Ned Lamont has officially signed legislation, with the support of legislative advocates, which authorizes the development of offshore wind in Connecticut.
The legislation, which was approved last month in the House of Representatives, was further given final legislative approval last week in the State Senate, and the 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 the incorporation of the findings of the Commission of Environmental Standards.
The statute calls for the commission to recommend for inclusion in each RFP best practices on minimizing environmental and fisheries impact.
“Connecticut should be the central hub of the offshore wind industry in New England,” said Governor Lamont. “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.”
Governor Lamont thanked the Energy and Technology Committee’s co-chairs and ranking members – Senator Norm Needleman (D-Essex), Representative David Arconti (D-Danbury), Senator Paul Formica (R-East Lyme), and Representative Charles Ferraro (R-West Haven) – for their leadership in working together in a bipartisan manner with his administration to draft the legislation and achieve its approval.
“It is my priority to see that Connecticut reaps the maximum benefit from this historic commitment to renewable energy,” said DEEP Commissioner Katie Dykes. “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.”
Details of the RFP are anticipated to be posted later today on DEEP’s website at www.ct.gov/DEEP/Energy.
Among its provisions, the legislation:
- Authorizes the state to purchase up to 2,000 MW (or equivalent to 30 percent of state load) – the largest authorization by load of any state in the region;
- 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 minimizing 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 labor agreement; and
- Commits the state and DEEP to develop a commission to develop best management practices for minimizing impacts to wildlife, natural resources, ecosystems, and commercial fishing during the construction and operation of facilities. Bidders will be required to develop mitigation plans that reflect these practices.
The approval of the legislation comes on the heels of a public-private partnership Governor Lamont announced last month 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 world-class, state-of-the-art port facility.
The partnership includes a combined $93 million 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.