Filling the wind in New London’s sails
All of us who call this part of Connecticut home want to see a thriving, economically vibrant City of New London. So, it is important not to lose sight of the value that off-shore wind development presents to our region and indeed Connecticut.
The off-shore wind project is perfectly suited for our core city. Its assets: a deep, well-dredged harbor with limited obstacles; a growing, well-educated workforce; and most importantly, a passionate desire to secure a strong foothold in the future of the region’s clean, renewable energy industry.
New London deserves to have the kind of economic revitalization seen in other towns and cities, and this project checks every box: it's green, renewable energy; it gives a jolt to the region’s economy; and, above all else, it supports the long-term financial viability of the region.
The impact of the agreement negotiated by Governor Lamont and his team to bring a $93 million project to the State Pier will have a ripple effect on the entire region and will place Connecticut as a leader in this new and exciting industry.
Let’s not lose sight of the value of this opportunity in the face of challenges. All the issues recently raised are surmountable, and key players are working closely on solutions that meet the needs of this new industry as well as the needs of ferries, tugboats and other port users, allowing safe negotiation of the harbor by all users. Orsted, Eversource, the governor’s office, appropriate state agencies, and other interested parties are working diligently to strike the right balance for all stakeholders and the public’s interest.
Bringing essential voices to the table, the governor followed through on a pledge he made months ago to provide New London a seat on the Connecticut Port Authority board with a commitment to support legislation allowing for a permanent board seat for the host community.
While the challenges faced by the Connecticut Port Authority in the past few weeks have caused great concern and created unnecessary obstacles, the governor is acting quickly to address these issues. His actions are working and will result in establishing a sound, open platform for the CPA to continue to guide us towards this unprecedented partnership.
Historically, New London’s heyday was found in its connection to the water. The industry that built this city — whaling — depended on the strength of its port. Enhancing our port to meet the needs of a forward-looking industry — wind power — builds a strong foundation for economic growth regionally.
The planned improvements to State Pier will accommodate the long-range vision for the Thames River as Connecticut’s premier deep-water port. The developments at the New London port will positively impact large and small businesses, with new employees and their families joining the local economy. These kinds of foundational opportunities are among the rarest and we need to seize this opening.
Governor Lamont, Orsted, Eversource, and the City of New London and numerous others deserve credit for the progress to date and for forging this partnership. We must offer our continued support and patience as they continue to negotiate the details of this complex agreement. Building a pier that accommodates the work of the future as well as existing port users is vital. We should and we must encourage ongoing collaboration among all parties involved to secure this tremendous opportunity for the region.
Tony Sheridan is president of the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut and chairman of the Connecticut Airport Authority.
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