The Connecticut House of Representatives has passed a bill that may bring up to 2 GW of offshore wind capacity to the state. House Bill 7156 was approved with an overwhelming 134-10 vote and will now be sent to the State Senate. To become law, it first needs to be signed by Governor Ned Lamont.
Earlier this month, Governor Lamont announced that the State of Connecticut, through the Connecticut Port Authority, and terminal operator Gateway are partnering with Bay State Wind, a joint venture between Ørsted and Eversource, on a deal that will redevelop State Pier into a world-class, state-of-the-art port facility through combined public-private investment of $93 million to upgrade its infrastructure and heavy-lift capability.
These upgrades will allow State Pier to meet the facility requirements of the offshore wind industry and will benefit the port’s long-term growth by increasing its capability to accommodate heavy-lift cargo for years to come.
“Our administration is working hard to put Connecticut in a place to become the center hub of the offshore wind industry in New England, and this legislation moves us one step closer to making that a reality,” Governor Lamont said. “Our valuable shoreline has the potential to provide multiple benefits to Connecticut residents – by delivering zero carbon renewable energy, we can increase the regional grid’s fuel security and make significant progress toward meeting our climate goals, all while driving economic growth and creating good jobs.”
“This legislation sends an unmistakable signal that Connecticut is poised for historic investment in offshore wind,” added Commissioner Dykes. “I applaud the legislature’s support for this bill, and here at DEEP we are looking forward to implementing this policy once it secures final passage.”
Among its provisions, the legislation:
- Authorizes the state to purchase up to 2,000 MW (or equivalent to 30% 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;
- Require 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 and 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.
“This is an opportunity that we cannot squander, and the growing, unified momentum behind this bill shows just how important this is to Connecticut. I’ve spoken with numerous members of the Senate about this bill, and I am confident that we can get it approved in that chamber so that I can sign it into law,” said Gov Lamont.