Connecticut offshore wind project receives key federal go-ahead

Bonds

Connecticut’s first offshore wind farm is one step closer to reality after a federal ruling came down this week.

On Tuesday, the Bureau of Ocean Energy issued a “record of decision” on a federal environmental review of Revolution Wind, a 704-megawatt offshore wind farm planned for development off the coast of the state in a partnership between Connecticut-based Eversource Energy and Danish energy company Ørsted.

The decision means the construction will likely be allowed to begin shortly on the $1.5 billion project, possibly within the coming weeks, according to the project’s developers. This marks the latest positive ruling for a growing number of wind energy initiatives across the Northeast.

A vessel off New York’s Long Island in December carries drills that will be used to build a wind farm. New York has five wind farms currently under development and as the number of such projects approved in the Northeast grows.

Bloomberg News

The partnership aims to develop a windfarm on a site located 15 miles south of the Rhode Island coast and 32 miles southeast of the Connecticut coast capable of providing 304 megawatts of energy to Connecticut and 400 megawatts to Rhode Island.

Preliminary hearings on the project were held by local authorities in March of 2021, resulting in an arrangement that put state-backing behind Revolution Wind while ironing out a deal with the Connecticut Port Authority for a public-private-partnership with Ørsted and Eversource to redevelop the State Pier in New London into a deep-water, heavy-lift port for wind turbine staging and construction activities.

In addition to $100 million for investment in local port infrastructure, the two companies committed $77.5 million to the pier project collectively in a deal inked in 2019 when work was originally estimated to cost $93 million.

However, supply chain issues and other overriding economic factors have forced the price up to $300 million, officials said, requiring additional infusions of state funds to see the project through to completion.

The State Bond Commission cleared $30 million in its most recent issuance approval necessary to keep work going to the pier, which Ørsted said in a statement would provide jobs and a boost to the local economy “including supply chain development, develop an offshore wind workforce from local skilled labor, and advance climate mitigation and resiliency.”

Connecticut has one other offshore wind project in development; the Park City Wind project promises to provide 800 Megawatts of clean power, 4,700 full-time jobs, and $890 million in economic development to the state by 2025. 

The project hit a snag earlier this year as its developer, Avangrid, sought some changes to its contract with the state in light of rising materials costs and other price hikes.

Connecticut is one of many states in the Northeast that have struck partnerships with energy developers.

Massachusetts is charging ahead with its first offshore wind project, the Vineyard Wind 1, which started construction earlier this month, while New York now has five in active development.

New Jersey, which recently closed its third round of submission for offshore wind farm proposals has two major projects currently in development.

One is a $1.6 billion venture, also featuring Ørsted, along Atlantic City’s coastline slated for completion in 2024 That project recently received project approval from the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.

Like Connecticut’s leadership, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has sought to develop his state’s wind energy infrastructure and port potential to shape the state into a national leader in the growing wind energy sector.

The state has leveraged millions in funds for the improvement, including $160 million of taxable lease revenue bonds sold through the New Jersey Economic Development Authority in January to support the development of a new port in Salem County tailored to windmill components.

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