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    Sunday, February 25, 2024

    As first set of wind turbine parts leave New London, new wind project gets key approval

    Tugs get into place to guide a barge carrying the first shipment of wind turbine blades and materials to the South Fork Wind project out of State Pier in New London on Tuesday evening, Oct. 31, 2023. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
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    A barge carrying the first shipment of wind turbine blades and materials to the South Fork Wind leaves State Pier in New London on Tuesday evening, Oct. 31, 2023. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
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    A barge carrying the first shipment of wind turbine blades and materials to the South Fork Wind leaves State Pier in New London on Tuesday evening, Oct. 31, 2023. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
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    A barge carrying the first shipment of wind turbine blades and materials to the South Fork Wind leaves State Pier in New London on Tuesday evening, Oct. 31, 2023. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
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    A part of a tower is hoisted by two cranes during a news conference at New London State Pier regarding the first shipment of wind turbine blades and materials to be shipped out on Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2023. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
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    Crews at State Pier’s offshore wind assembly site load components onto a barge headed for South Fork Wind off the coast of Long Island on Sunday, Oct. 29, 2023. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
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    Eversource CEO, Chairman and President Joe Nolan speaks to the media during a news conference at New London State Pier regarding the first shipment of wind turbine blades and materials to be shipped out on Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2023. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
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    New London – Eversource officials had two reasons to celebrate Tuesday as they announced the departure of the first load of wind-power components from State Pier and the brokering of a financial decision that will allow the staging site to be used as a pre-assembly area for another large-scale wind farm project.

    Eversource President and Chief Executive Officer Joe Nolan said Ørsted, the Danish wind company his firm is partnering with on the South Fork Wind project, said a final investment decision was reached earlier in the day to move ahead with another joint venture, the 704-megawatt Revolution Wind project, which is expected to deliver power to sections of Connecticut and Rhode Island.

    A financial investment decision is the point in the planning process when the major financial commitment is taken. It is the final decision to determine whether the investment in a project is worth it.

    The decision notice came on the same day the first load of offshore wind components were set to be shipped from New London’s deep-water port via barge to the coast of Long Island for assembly as part of the South Fork Wind project.

    The 130-megawatt South Fork project promises to deliver energy to 70,000 homes on Long Island with power expected to begin flowing to the grid before the end of the year.

    Nolan described the Revolution project as “six times bigger” than its South Fork counterpart with assembly work slated to begin in New London by next year.

    Ulysses Hammond, interim director of the Connecticut Port Authority, which oversees State Pier, said the Revolution job will employ between 70 to 120 workers – about 70 currently work the South Fork job – and involve the assembly of 65 turbines that will be shipped to two offshore wind stations in federal waters 15 nautical miles southeast of Point Judith, R.I.

    The Revolution project is expected to generate 400 megawatts of power to Rhode Island and 304 megawatts to Connecticut.

    Dock workers spent the weekend loading an unnamed barge with wind turbine tower sections, blades and a generating nacelle, the first of 12 such sets of cargo that will travel during the next several weeks to waters about 35 miles east of Montauk Point as part of the South Fork Wind project.

    “This is a great day for our nation and the birthing of a new industry,” Hammond said. “This is the first large-scale wind turbine farm in federal waters in all of the Americas.”

    Jeff Martin, Eversource’s director of offshore wind business development, said the barge will rendezvous sometime early Wednesday morning with the Aeolus, a Netherlands-flagged “jack-up” ship whose deck can be hoisted above the waves to take on the wind components. Crews will spend roughly 60 hours installing the pieces on a waiting platform.

    After a 40-hour unloading process, the barge will return to New London and pick up another set of turbine pieces. On Tuesday, dock workers were placing 320-foot blades and tower stems that will reach 800 feet once assembled near the water in anticipation of their departure.

    Nolan said weather will play a big role in determining when all 12 turbine sets are delivered.

    “Today it’s fair winds and following seas,” he said referring to the clear fall weather. “It’s an historic day with the first sailing of this barge.”

    Nolan said it had taken several millions of dollars, but State Pier is now the “envy of everyone in the wind industry.”

    Mayor Michael Passero praised the “perseverant vision” of Gov. Ned Lamont and other project boosters.

    “This is an amazing technological achievement,” Passero said.

    State Rep. Anthony Nolan, D-New London, acknowledged the “turmoil and disagreement” that preceded the launch by “naysayers,” seeming to refer to the cost overages associated with the $309 million refurbishment of State Pier.

    “The evidence is how great this is,” he said. “There were naysayers in the beginning and a little more in expenses, yes. But we did what we were asked to do.”

    j.penney@theday.com

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