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    Tuesday, May 28, 2024

    Port authority employee hired by state to lead offshore wind efforts

    One of the Connecticut Port Authority’s four employees is leaving this month to take a job coordinating development of the state’s offshore wind initiatives.

    Andrew Lavigne, the port authority’s manager of business development and special projects, has accepted the job of clean energy program manager with the state Department of Economic and Community Development.

    He starts at the new post on April 10 and will spearhead DECD’s development of the renewable energy industry in the state. Lavigne said the focus will be the offshore wind industry and “advancing Connecticut’s green economy supply chain, workforce, port assets, and research and development.”

    Paul Lavoie, chief manufacturing officer for the state Department of Community and Economic Development said on Wednesday that Lavigne’s skill set and understanding of the offshore wind industry was a perfect fit for the newly-created position aimed at driving the state’s clean energy initiatives.

    With State Pier in New London coming online with offshore wind activity in the coming weeks, Lavoie said the state will be building a supply chain and workforce around operations and maintenance of the offshore wind farms. Lavigne will lead those efforts, working with partners that include the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut, the Southeastern Connecticut Enterprise Region (seCTer), City of New London, Connecticut Port Authority and other partners in the region, Lavoie said.

    Lavigne was already a member of the DECD’s Offshore Wind Strikeforce, a group that meets regularly to discuss things like offshore wind supply chain, workforce development and research and development.

    With Gateway scheduled to take over operations at State Pier on April 15 and barges with offshore wind components arriving shortly after, Lavoie said the offshore wind industry “is already here.”

    Lavigne has worked for the port authority since 2018.

    "Andrew is a talented young professional who has played a vital role in advancing the mission of the Connecticut Port Authority and will, no doubt at DECD, enhance our state's coordination and economic development  of renewable energy opportunities, including offshore wind,” Port Authority Executive Director Ulysses Hammond said in a statement.

    Lavigne was one of two former employees at the port authority fined for violating state ethics rules when he accepted tickets to a playoff hockey game in Boston in 2019 from a company doing business with the port authority. Lavigne had reimbursed the company, Seabury Maritime, prior to the ethics probe but not within the 30 days as required by state ethics laws.

    Lavigne was fined $750 and suspended for two days without pay. Former Port Authority Executive Director Evan Matthews and board members Donald Frost and Henry Juan II were also found to have accepted gifts from Seabury.

    It was one of several missteps by the quasi-public agency that has continued to garner scrutiny and oversight from the state and led to several investigations even as costs for the State Pier reconstruction project, managed by the port authority, have continued to escalate.

    Lavoie said the ethics violation was discussed with Lavigne at length when he was interviewed for the position and said while Lavigne “certainly made a mistake,” he had has paid the cost of the mistake and moved on.

    Lavigne’s departure leaves just three employees at the quasi-public port authority: Hammond, Interim Finance Director Veronica Calvert and a part-time fiscal administrative assistant. Joseph Salvatore is a state Department of Transportation employee who serves as the port authority’s program manager.

    Hammond was hired in April 2022 as an interim director. The Port Authority’s Board of Directors has discussed but not taken any action on advertising the permanent executive director position.

    ”Connecticut has established itself as a first-mover in advancing clean energy, particularly in emerging markets like the new US offshore wind industry. I am excited to coordinate DECD’s development of a vibrant and resilient green economy and renewable energy industry to spur further investment, job creation and economic growth across the State,” Lavigne said.

    G.smith@theday.com

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