The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) has released a request for proposals (RFP) for offshore wind power as required under Public Act 19-71 — An Act Concerning the Procurement of Energy Derived from Offshore Wind. This request for proposals seeks up to 2,000 MW of offshore wind.
DEEP launched this historic RFP process within days of enactment of Public Act 19-71, and sought comments from stakeholders on a draft of the RFP in July.
As part of the RFP process, DEEP Commissioner Katie Dykes convened a Commission on Environmental Standards to provide input on best practices for avoiding, minimizing, and mitigating any impacts to wildlife, natural resources, ecosystems, and traditional or existing water-dependent uses like commercial fishing.
The Commission held a series of meetings over the course of two months and released a report on August 7, which provided recommendations to DEEP.
“This RFP represents the future of the state’s environmental, energy, and economic potential,” said Governor Ned Lamont. “I commend DEEP and the Commission on Environmental Standards for working so thoroughly to find the right balance in this RFP to preserve our ocean ecosystem while encouraging the development of a local renewable energy industry.”
This RFP represents the state’s first solicitation dedicated specifically to offshore wind development. It builds off of multi-resource solicitations in 2018 in which Connecticut bought 304 MW of offshore wind from the Revolution Wind project (now owned by Ørsted and Eversource).
“Offshore wind has the potential to significantly reduce the electric grid’s dependence on fossil fuels, improve grid reliability in the winter, and advance clean energy jobs and development here in our state, all while helping Connecticut achieve critical climate goals,” said Commissioner Dykes. “I am grateful to the Commission on Environmental Standards for working quickly to inform DEEP about opportunities to pursue offshore wind development in a manner that minimizes environmental and fisheries impacts, both in this RFP process and in any steps that follow the selection of a project in this RFP.”
In response to the release of the draft request for proposals in mid-July, DEEP received over 50 comments and nearly 100 additional comments and emails directed to the Commission on Environmental Standards.
DEEP carefully reviewed those comments and made the following changes to the final RFP language requiring bidders to include: An Environmental and Fisheries Mitigation Plan for the construction and operation of offshore wind facilities that includes the points that follow…
- An Adaptive Plan with clearly identified Stakeholders, a Stakeholder engagement process, a plan for pre-construction and risk assessment, a process to avoid, minimize, and mitigate risks to Stakeholders throughout the project phases, and a reporting schedule on such plan.
- Addressing how the bidder will inventory, avoid, minimize, and mitigate the following specific hazards: risk to commercial fisheries, risk to marine mammals and sea turtles with specific reference to underwater sound and collision, and risk to birds and bats.
- A Data Reference and Sharing Plan that addresses coordination with relevant Regional Working Groups and a plan to store and share inventory and monitoring data.
Information on a decommission plan that includes a commitment to the process outlined by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management for federal waters, and addresses decommissioning, (including decommissioning funding) for project areas outside of federal waters.
The timeline for DEEP’s RFP aligns with a similar offshore wind solicitation run by the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources, enhancing competition and urgency as the Production Tax Credit that benefits wind production sunsets at the end of the year.
There is no minimum amount of offshore wind that DEEP must procure under this RFP, and selection decisions will depend on projects demonstrating that they are in the best interest of Connecticut’s ratepayers. DEEP is committed to developing a schedule in its Integrated Resources Plan for future offshore wind procurements authorized under Public Act 19-71, consistent with the state’s and region’s electric needs and carbon reduction targets.