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Connecticut Port Authority misses second permit deadline

New London — The Connecticut Port Authority has for the second time missed a deadline to obtain a federal permit needed for a portion of the $235.5 million State Pier construction project.

But while the Aug. 31 and now Oct. 15 deadlines have come and gone, both the CPA and its partners - the team of Danish wind company Ørsted and utility company Eversource - continue to express optimism the project will move forward as planned.

Andrew Lavigne, the CPA’s manager of business development and special projects, said the two sides plan to meet and either revise the deadline or revise the Harbor Development Agreement and sublease agreement.

“A new deadline has not yet been reached, however we will be meeting with our partners regularly with the goal of identifying a mutually agreeable timeline as soon as possible,” Lavigne said. “The Authority and our partners remain committed to developing a plan to deliver the project in its full scope. Altered scope has not been discussed in our meetings."

In the meantime, Lavigne said work crews continue progress on permitted work at State Pier that is not dependent on the federal permit, “including construction of the northeast bulkhead and heavy-lift pad, both of which have seen significant progress this month.”

 Ørsted/Eversource can not dredge the Thames River without the federal permit.

The Port Authority earlier this year had agreed to certain deadlines with Ørsted/Eversource as part of an amendment to a Harbor Development Agreement, the document that governs the project. Ørsted and Eversource have pledged $70 million toward the project with the state contributing the rest.

In exchange for releasing their funding up front, Ørsted and Eversource secured the ability to pull back their funding if the Port Authority does not meet certain milestones such as obtaining the federal permit. 

Ørsted and Eversource have plans to transform State Pier into a offshore wind hub to support its planned offshore wind farms.

While the Port Authority has obtained a permit from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, the progress of the permit application to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is unclear. The Port Authority’s board, at an Oct. 5 meeting, approved a revised memorandum of agreement between the Connecticut State Historic Preservation Office and Army Corps that is to be incorporated into a federal permit. It is one sign that the permit process is ongoing.

Port Authority Board Chairman David Kooris said at that Oct. 5 meeting said he believed the permit application was “working its way through the various internal approvals.”

“We remain confident that it’s on track and I don’t know if I’d use the word imminent, but coming very soon," Kooris said of permit application.

Ørsted and Eversource released the following statement to The Day On Monday.

"Ørsted and Eversource are Connecticut’s partner in addressing climate change, supporting economic development and job creation through offshore wind and the State Pier redevelopment project. With the agreed upon federal permit deadline having passed, we will be meeting with the Connecticut Port Authority and Gateway Terminal to assess the impact, if any, on the overall project schedule. We remain excited about the transformation of State Pier and its benefits to Connecticut."

Port Authority Board member John Johnson said he expects to have a permit in hand by next month and both sides remain committed to the project.

“There is a determination not only on the part of the CPA but our partners Ørsted and Eversource, that this thing is going to happen. We are like bulldogs. We have no thoughts that this is going to fall apart,” Johnson said.

G.smith@theday.com

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