State receives pair of offshore wind farm bids
Developers vying to deliver Connecticut's first offshore wind project submitted a pair of 200-megawatt proposals to regulators this week.
Denmark-based Orsted and Eversource announced Monday night that they jointly proposed an offshore wind farm in federal waters 65 miles off the coast of New London. Orsted plans to develop and construct the project's wind farm, billed Constitution Wind, and offshore transmission, while Eversource would handle the onshore transmission system.
On Tuesday, Deepwater Wind — the Rhode Island developer behind the Block Island Wind Farm — announced a proposal to funnel 200 megawatts of electricity to Connecticut from its Revolution Wind project in federal waters between Montauk, N.Y., and Martha's Vineyard, Mass. Deepwater Wind has a pending proposal to deliver energy to Massachusetts from the same offshore project.
The bids were submitted to the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection after the state issued its first request for proposals for offshore wind projects in January.
The proposals also follow a push from Gov. Dannel Malloy and DEEP to increase renewable energy deployment and cut greenhouse gas emissions.
DEEP says it will select an offshore wind proposal by June.
"Constitution Wind will bring the most experienced, dependable partners together to help New England lead the way in North America's renewable energy industry," Thomas Bromstrom, Orsted's president of North American operations, said in a statement.
Eversource Vice President Mike Ausere said his company's "sophisticated understanding of New England's electrical grid will pair with Orsted's extensive offshore experience to bring clean energy to Connecticut consumers effectively and efficiently."
The companies initially launched their partnership, Bay State Wind LLC, to build an 800-megawatt wind farm off the Massachusetts shore.
Deepwater Wind said its project could be a standalone windfarm or an expansion project, depending on the results of bids under review in Massachusetts and Connecticut. The company's adjacent South Fork Wind Farm project will supply Long Island with 90 megawatts of power.
The Revolution Wind project would be paired with what Deepwater Wind called a "first-of-its-kind offshore transmission backbone" developed along with National Grid Ventures.
In a statement, Deepwater Wind said the transmission system would support not only Revolution Wind but future offshore farms in the region, "even if they're built by our competitors. This cooperation will reduce infrastructure costs and save electric ratepayers money."
"We're ready to put Connecticut on the map when it comes to offshore wind," Deepwater Wind CEO Jeffrey Grybowski said in a statement. "We're the best fit to help make Connecticut's renewable energy goals a reality."
An energy storage component in the proposal could help deliver power to Connecticut utilities during peak demand on the regional grid "even when the wind isn't blowing," the firm said in its announcement.
Port officials and environmental advocates say the region could become a hub for offshore wind development, including component manufacturing and shipping in and out of New London.
"Wind energy has the potential to help power Connecticut's maritime economy," said Scott Bates, chairman of the Connecticut Port Authority. "This is an industry that is custom designed to leverage our deepwater ports."
Keith Brothers, president of the New London-Norwich Building and Construction Trades Council, said trade workers look forward to assembling towers and installing turbines.
"We have the skilled people to make this happen," Brothers said in a statement. "The building trades workforce of Eastern Connecticut is eager to do whatever is needed to support this growing industry."
Emily Lewis, a policy analyst at Acadia Center, called the request for proposals "a great first step for Connecticut."
"Offshore wind is a critical technology for states to meet their clean energy and greenhouse gas reduction requirements," she said. "Connecticut's RFP shows that the state wants to participate in growing the market for this clean energy resource."
Lewis and John Humphries, organizer for the CT Roundtable on Climate and Jobs, say to capitalize on potential port and industry jobs, the state must increase its current legal limit of about 250 megawatts for offshore wind proposals.
"Connecticut has taken a modest initial step with this procurement process, but the good news is that New London's port is well positioned to become a regional hub of activity to support offshore wind projects up and down the coast," Humphries said.
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