Orsted/Eversource State Pier deal an economic opportunity for the region
Historically speaking, doing business in Connecticut has not been easy. And the challenges of the Connecticut Port Authority over this last year could have caused any investor to become squeamish and walk away. But Ørsted/Eversource's unwavering commitment to Connecticut and New London, combined with Gov. Ned Lamont’s business savvy and direct engagement, has resulted in our region capturing a truly transformational economic opportunity.
There are some projects that tick all the boxes for positive economic development and upgrading the aged State Pier into a state-of-the-art port facility is one of them. The $157 million investment realizes drastically needed improvements to the pier and positions Connecticut as a hub in the burgeoning U.S. offshore wind industry.
Lamont, the Connecticut Port Authority, Ørsted/Eversource and Gateway Terminal each deserve commendation for this public-private partnership, leveraging industry dollars for public infrastructure improvements that facilitate long-term economic growth for the region. Major planned upgrades will re-make State Pier into a modern, heavy-lift capable port and maintain its freight-rail link, increasing its cargo capacity for decades to come and allowing us to be a major player in the new American offshore wind industry.
The project is forward-thinking in its support of sustainable, pro-environment green energy and U.S. energy independence. It creates diversity in our energy supplies, making Connecticut a more resilient economy.
Private investment leveraged
In the state’s current climate of budgetary constraints, without nearly $80 million in Ørsted/Eversource pier redevelopment funds, there is no way the State Pier would be a target of public redevelopment. Instead the pier would have languished in New London as a substandard facility for another decade or more, and the city would have missed the opportunity to benefit from the jobs and investment created by the burgeoning offshore wind industry.
In addition to direct pier redevelopment dollars, the Ørsted/Eversource partnership has agreed to pay the City of New London over a million dollars per year in host community payments, with that number potentially doubling based on the success of the offshore wind business at the facility.
Redeveloping State Pier spurs economic growth immediately and in the future. Construction of the pier brings 400 new jobs to the region over the next two years. After construction, Ørsted and Eversource anticipate another 400 jobs to support wind turbine generator pre-assembly and staging to power their Revolution Wind, Sunrise Wind, and South Fork Wind projects. Gateway has committed to maximizing use of the pier during the 10-year lease, when ebbs in construction create alternative opportunities to receive conventional cargo. Bringing these good-paying jobs to the region buoys the local economy and will have a ripple effect on the small-business community.
Competing with our neighbors
Other Northeastern states with healthier fiscal circumstances are investing public funds to secure economic opportunity. New York has committed $200 million in public funds to OSW Port Infrastructure; New Jersey is considering millions in public investment; and Massachusetts has already constructed its $150 million, 100% taxpayer-funded offshore wind facility.
Lamont worked directly with all the players to ensure Connecticut was not left behind and that through this public private partnership the state landed a once in a generation economic development opportunity.
These State Pier improvements will offer far-reaching opportunities for New London and beyond. As the offshore wind industry develops, New London will be perfectly positioned with a redeveloped State Pier, with rail and highway access, all supporting related manufacturing and supply chain services. Businesses and families in the greater New London region will have a new source of opportunity through which they can build and prosper.
Tony Sheridan is the chief executive officer and president of the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut and chairman of the Connecticut Airport Authority.