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Chamber of commerce releases study on opportunities from offshore wind

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A new report examining the potential benefits to Connecticut from the offshore wind industry urges expedience in developing the assets needed to support the growing industry.

The report, “Embracing the Potential of Offshore Wind in Connecticut: a Study of Opportunities and Challenges,” was commissioned by offshore wind partners Ørsted and Eversource, the team funding a portion of the $235 million reconstruction of State Pier in New London.

The study was overseen by the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut, which hired McAllister Marine Engineering LLC of Rhode Island to complete the study.

The 156-page report concludes that in addition to three deepwater ports attractive to the offshore industry, the state already has a well-developed supply chain built around Electric Boat operations, “which has resulted in a robust, developed set of suppliers and manufacturers able to pivot to support the (offshore wind) marketplace.”

The state’s existing aerospace industry also is in a position to adapt to some of the manufacturing requirements of the wind turbine generators and their various components.

Just how many future jobs will be created remains a question. The study projects, based on current state commitments to wind power, 127 direct jobs statewide, 410 indirect jobs and 174 “induced jobs,” or those created by a boost to the local economy.

State Sens. Cathy Osten, D-Sprague, and Paul Formica, R-East Lyme, were among the participants in a video conference hosted by the chamber on Wednesday.

Osten said her focus was the number of full-time jobs that would be available for residents. “We did lose a number of full-time equivalent jobs at New London (State) Pier relative to the longshoremen. I’d like to make sure we’re hiring local people for these full-time jobs,” she said.

To capture local talent, the study urges the development of workforce training programs.

Formica urged use of the freight line from State Pier and opportunities presented by rail to reach inland assembly and manufacturing plants. He said he also had hoped the report touched on opportunities to work collaboratively with the commercial fishing industry and the plans to mitigate impacts to fishing grounds. The report does not delve into any collaborations with fishermen and concentrates on shoreline and inland developments.

The full report is available on the chamber’s website.

Tony Sheridan, the chamber’s president and CEO, said an additional forum to discuss the report is being scheduled for the new year.

The report, he said in a statement, gives “an unvarnished look at the status of the industry in Connecticut and the Northeast, the economic opportunities available, our advantages in attracting those opportunities, and challenges that can keep the state from realizing the maximum potential offered by offshore wind power.”

Gov. Ned Lamont, in a statement, said the state looks forward to supporting private sector partners “as we further strengthen our position in this emerging industry and maximize its benefits to the environment, job growth, economic development and our future as a state.”

g.smith@theday.com

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